New Delhi, Jul 11: Applauding the proposal to provide sanitation to all households by 2019, Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak on Friday said the step would bring down sexual crimes against women in the country.

Arguing that sexual assaults often took place because women are forced to answer the call of nature in the open, Pathak cited the horrific gang rape and murder of two sisters in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun village who were abducted when they went to relieve themselves in the open.

“By giving such importance to the issue of toilets, the government will also succeed in tackling women-related crimes and sexual assaults which they face for want of toilets in rural areas,” Pathak said in a statement. “This is the first time when government has shown its intention to solve the problem of open defecation in the country,” he added.

Giving “utmost importance” to sanitation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said that the government intended to cover every household under the ‘Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Mission) by 2019.