Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) is a national movement committed to the total eradication of manual scavenging and the rehabilitation of all scavengers for dignified occupations.
The main reason for the continuation of the practise of manual scavenging is due to the presence of dry latrines. The presence of dry latrine poses a challenge in completing the sanitation chain. In India, a specific group of people are forced to complete this chain – The MANAUAL SCAVENGERS.
Manual scavenging, an occupation which involves cleaning the dry latrines and carrying human excreta, is considered as one of the lowest, polluted and most degrading occupation. The caste system dictates that those born into a particular Dalit sub-caste should engage in manual scavenging and should remain doing so throughout their lives, prohibiting them to lead a dignified life in the community.
Though the Indian government has various laws like ‘The Employment of Manual Scavenging and construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act,1993’ which prohibits the engagement or employment of persons for manually carrying human excreta, and further prohibits the construction or maintenance of dry latrines, this practise still continues in as many as 256 districts in India. Apart from being employed by individual households there are many manual scavengers employed by the government for cleaning at the community dry latrines, Railway stations, government hospitals, etc.
Safai Karmchari Andolan was initiated in 1995 by children of those engaged in Manual Scavenging themselves for liberation from this ghastly occupation and dignity. Since then, it has grown progressively to become a national movement spread over 25 states of India, with the national secretariat in New Delhi. Under the guidance of the National Advisory Group, SKA's programs are executed by the National Core Team working closely together with State Conveners, Organizers and Animators across the country.
While primarily focusing on the rights of manual scavengers, SKA is also committed to working with all those engaged in 'unclean' occupations such as sewage workers, pit workers and sweepers who fall within the ambit of 'safai karmacharis'. SKA was instrumental in eradicating manual scavenging in as many as139 districts, as of 2009. SKA works in close cooperation and collaboration with other Dalit and human rights organizations committed to the rights of Dalits and other marginalized communities in general and safai karmacharis in particular.
We, Safai Karmachari Andolan, shall struggle and build solidarity to reclaim our dignity, equality and human personhood. Through eradicating manual scavenging, we will break the link imposed by the caste system between birth and dehumanizing occupations.