The unheard cry of manual scavengers

Democracy is not merely a form of Government…It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen.”

The above words were uttered by an impeccable leader, who stood against colonisation bravely, Leader, ‘B.R Ambedkar’ Which is perfectly suitable for a cruel system of manual scavenging which still engages in a democratic country like India.

Manual scavenging is an inhuman act of making lower caste people clean drainages, public and private toilets and open drains which are contained with human excretion. As brutal as it sounds, this practice has been engaging since a very long period of time in numerous parts of south Asia, mainly in India.

The fact that this kind of malpractice is only said to be done by lower caste people who are termed as so-called, ‘untouchables’ is completely devastating. Lower caste people are designated as colonised and leveled at the very bottom of an hierarchical scale created by upper caste groups, for lower caste groups to do odd jobs like manual scavenging or cleaning human waste.

    This designation of lower caste people by higher caste groups, causes preconceived notions among individuals that they are ‘unclean’ and creates extensive bias perpetually.

The first initiative to restrict manual scavenging in India, was taken in 1993 by the Indian government in order to forbid employment of manual scavengers and construction of dry latrines. In fact ever since India’s independence in 1947, legislative assembly and government reinforced policies to end the practice of manual scavenging and therefore rationalisation of sanitising and prohibition of engaging any individual to practise manual scavenging was enforced to restrain disposal Human feces. 

Although numerous enforcement of acts against manual scavenging was initiated, due to lack of implementation of laws and lack of awareness among people, they remained manual scavengers. However, a survey reports that several women faced threats when they refrained from cleaning toilets in the households they served in order to gain for their families. As compensation for leaving, they were said to be evicted and lose access to the land and resources they own. It’s claimed that some women were threatened with violence when they turned down on manual scavenging.

Currently, a new amendment reinforced in 2021 adding to the 1993 act and 2013 act as a further step by demanding proper mechanisation and legal basis for punishment, if an individual forces a person to practise manual scavenging. Hoping for a vast improvement and change in deprivation of lower caste people performing jobs like manual scavenging at least after this new amendment brought by the Indian government against any kind of malpractice.

Few recommendations and suggestions to restrain manual scavenging

  • Strict laws to prevent people from practising such inhumane acts should be implemented.
  • Severe actions against members  threatening and intimidating people for refraining themselves from manual scavenging should be taken immediately.
  • Enforce amendments against free government officials who themselves hire people as manual scavengers.

No human is superior to anyone and human is inferior to anyone. In my opinion, I believe every human deserves reverence and basic human rights to live peacefully. Nobody deserves to clean another human’s excreta and get treated in the utmost submissive state. The number of consequences caused by being in contact with human feces frequently is inevitable and creates numerous issues and diseases which are cruel. Deprivation of lower caste people by higher caste people is still engaging in many parts of South Asia for a long time. 

Anticipating a good democratic nation without zero discrimination and provision of equal rights to every individual.

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