Manual scavenging is a work that involves people to clean human excreta (ya! Shit). We are planning to send humans into space but don’t bother about the fellow human beings who are forced by the society - which includes many people like us - to clean the excreta of others. Indian society - mainly guided by the caste system - has thrust this practice on people from specific communities -who are from the ‘untouchable castes’.
Didn’t Indian constitution abolish untouchability, as well as the occupations that have untouchability built into them?
Even though practice of untouchability is prohibited by the Indian Constitution it continues to exist in our society. Similarly, the practice of manual scavenging continues to exist in many forms. Even the government promotes such an occupation. Workers are employed by the municipalities and the Indian railways to carry out manual scavenging. Manual scavenging, is also carried out in private homes and in community toilets.
The persons employed are made to clean the human excreta and dispose it by carrying it on their heads or against their waists. Manual scavenging also includes the workers engaged to clean the drains, sewers, septic tanks, railway tracks etc. During festivals and melas where there is a large gathering of people, the practice of manual scavenging is widespread.
Why is manual scavenging still practiced?
Yes. One of the important reasons for the existence of manual scavenging is usage of dry latrines. According to the 2011 census, there are 26,07,612 dry latrines in India. Manual scavengers are employed in cleaning these latrines.
Has nothing been done to abolish manual Scavenging?
It is easier said than done. The first president of India Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1950 declared it illegal to have such an occupation in our country and promised to take up this issue as a priority in 1st Five Year Plan. The supreme court of India had directed the union and state governments to put an end to this practice. But, the response is half hearted.
The members of the community who have given up manual scavenging are forced by the upper castes to continue doing it. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/if-you-dont-send-your-women-to-clean-our-toilets-we-will-beat-them-up/article6350683.ece
Manual scavenging is the worst occupation that exists in the world today. This is a practice that has been continuing for thousands of years and it is time to end it.