This seven-year-old girl from India tried to get her dad arrested over a toilet

This seven-year-old girl from India tried to get her dad arrested over a toilet

Many people in India do not have access to toilets, including Hanifa's family - who live in Ambur, a town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India. Hanifa Zaara, seven, said that she felt "ashamed" to go outside, so asked her father to build a toilet for them.

"I was ashamed to go outside and I felt bad when people looked at me," Hanifa told the BBC, explaining that she was especially motivated after she learned about the health problems caused by open defecation at school. Her father told her that he would build one as long as she topped her class that year, but failed to live up to the promise.

So, she took the bold step of writing a letter to the police.

Credit: BBC

"I have been topping my class since nursery," she wrote. "I am in the second grade now. And he is still only saying he will do it. This is a form of cheating, so please arrest him."

She also added that if they didn't arrest him, they should still force him to provide her with a signed letter promising he would build the toilet. Her father, Ehsanullah, explained to the BBC that he had actually started on the toilet, but didn't have enough money to complete it, due to his current unemployment.

"I asked Hanifa to give me more time but she stopped talking to me because I couldn't keep my promise," he added, but she didn't have much sympathy for his explanation. "How long can I keep asking him for the same thing? He kept giving me the same excuse about not having enough money," she added. "So I went to the police."

Credit: BBC

This Monday, she went to the police station along with her mother, Mehareen, police officer A Valarmathi explained. "She came with a bag filled with trophies and merit certificates and she arranged them on my desk, and then she said, can you give me a toilet?" they said.

Her father was called, and he rushed to the station, worried that his wife and daughter might be in trouble. However, he was surprised to find out he had been summoned all because of the toilet. Ehsanullah often helps villagers fill out paperwork or write letters to local officials, and believes his daughter knew how to write an official letter by watching him.

"I never thought this would backfire against me!" he said, and little did he know that her words would have great effect on the community too. "Her complaint was very honest, so we tried to resolve the issue," officer Valamarthi explained. Soon, district officials were alerted, and are now planning to raise money to build over 500 toilets in Hanifa's neighbourhood.

Credit: BBC

"We were very happy to see her complaint," city commissioner S Parthasarathy said. "We organise classes in schools to encourage children to ask their parents for toilets at home."

There are also talks that Hanifa may be the local face of the national Swach Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign), through which the government is hoping to provide all households with a toilet by next year.

Hanifa said she was "very happy" with the result of her actions, and while she hasn't been speaking to her father for the last ten days, the police eventually brokered peace between the two, with Hanifa and her father shaking hands.