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Sanitation access, behavior, and practices and their health and social implications for on-duty female police officials — a perceptional study in South India

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Access to clean sanitation is closely linked to women’s dignity, health, and wellbeing, and lack of these is a significant concern. We explore the perceptions about the poor sanitation access for on-duty female police officials working at off-site locations and its implications with regard to their behavior, health, and social lives.

Subject and methods

We conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey study with 150 on-duty female police officials in the period January–March, 2020 in South India to elicit their perceptions about access to sanitation in off-site locations, their behavioral modifications to tackle this issue, and its impacts on their health and social lives. Data analysis was done using SPSS software.


A high percentage of female police officials (69%) reported not having toilet access while on duty in off-site locations, and 80% avoided drinking water during duty to avoid accessing toilets. Poor toilet access was significantly associated with higher risk of genitourinary symptoms (OR: 2.1; 95% CI: 0.96–4.83) and urinary tract Infections (OR: 2.5; 95% CI: 1.05–5.48). About 11% of participants abstained from work for hygiene purposes during their menstruation owing to discomfort without toilet access, with consequent wage loss and significant adverse social impacts (OR: 10.8; 95% CI: 4.7–25.2; p value = 0.0001).


Reduced access to clean sanitation facilities for on-duty female police officials has adverse implications on their toileting and hydration behavior, health, and social lives. Gender-sensitive policies and enhanced welfare facilities are needed to motivate and to obviate health and social risks for the female police force engaged in protecting the country’s citizens.

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Authors and Affiliations



Dr. Vidhya Venugopal conceived the scope and contributed to writing and editing.

Akshaya Prem Kumar supported in data collection, consolidation, analysis, writing, and editing.

PK Latha and Rekha Shanmugam supported in analysis, writing, and editing.

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Correspondence to Vidhya Venugopal.

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Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC) (CSP/20/JAN/83/21).

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Venugopal, V., Kumar, A.P., Shanmugam, R. et al. Sanitation access, behavior, and practices and their health and social implications for on-duty female police officials — a perceptional study in South India. J Public Health (Berl.) 31, 897–904 (2023).

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