- Title: INDIA: "Untouchable" toilet cleaners bear the brunt of India's poor sanitation
- Date: 27th November 2012
- Summary: FARRUKH NAGAR, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING IN FARRUKH NAGAR VILLAGE A FARMER SITTING BEHIND A COW VILLAGERS IN AN OPEN FIELD SARASVATI, A TOILET CLEANER, WALKING SARASVATI SCOOPS UP HUMAN WASTE INSIDE A NON-FLUSH TOILET SARASVATI CLEANS A TOILET SARASVATI PLACES A WICKER BASKET FULL OF HUMAN EXCREMENT ON TOP OF HER HEAD SARASVATI WALKS OUT OF THE BRICK-ENCLOSED TOILET TO DISPOSE OF THE WASTE SHE HAS COLLECTED SOUNDBITE (Hindi) SARASVATI, CLEANER, SAYING: ""I don't like this work. I want another job. I can't survive doing this." A TOILET CLEANER WALKS PAST A MAN A TOILET CLEANER CLEANS A DRY LATRINE TOILET CONTENT COLLECTED IN WICKER BASKET TOILET CLEANER PLACES BASKET ON TOP OF HER HEAD AND WALKS AWAY NEW DELHI, INDIA, (RECENT) (REUTERS) BEZWADA WILSON FROM NGO SAFAI KARMACHARI ANDOLAN (SANITORY WORKERS MOVEMENT) USES HIS MOBILE PHONE INSIDE HIS OFFICE SOUNDBITE (English) BEZWADA WILSON, SAFAI KARMACHARI ANDOLAN (SANITORY WORKERS MOVEMENT), SAYING: "Wherever there is very less money, wherever there is stigma, and it is very menial, there is the women because there are 2 simple reasons. One is all these women, all, 100 per cent, are from the scheduled caste Dalit community. Different caste, but scheduled caste Dalit community. The second is within that the patriarchal values are there." FARRUKH NAGAR, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA, (RECENT) (REUTERS ) MANJU, A FORMER MANUAL TOILET CLEANER, WORKS ON A GARMENT ON A SEWING MACHINE MANJU TURNS A ONB ON HER SEWING MACHINE CLOSE UP OF SEWING MACHINE NEEDLE CLOSE UP OF MANJU'S FACE MANJU'S FEET PUSHING THE SEWING MACHINE'S PEDAL SOUNDBITE (Hindi) MANJU, FORMER MANUAL SCAVENGER, SAYING: "At home my husband does this work and I now do this work and this is how we makemeet." NEW DELHI, INDIA, (NOVEMBER 26, 2012) (REUTERS) MEN WALK TOWARDS OPEN FIELDS AN OPEN FIELD UNDER A FLYOVER A.K. SEN GUPTA, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SULABH INTERNATIONAL, WORKING AT HIS DESK GUPTA WRITING SOMETHING DOWN (SOUNDBITE) (English) A.K. SEN GUPTA, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SULABH INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "Having a toilet in the house is a most important thing for a health point of view, because India's infant mortality rate is very high and one of the reasons is not having a toilet." MEN CARRYING BOTTLES OF WATER WALK TOWARDS AN OPEN FIELD USED AS A TOILET MEN WALK BY WITH WATER
- Embargoed: 12th December 2012 12:00
- Location: India
- Country: India
- Topics: Health,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADWLRPNPW442T32XRYQ2DB9LO
- Story Text: In a town just 30 kilometres away from India's capital, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh around 30 women bear the brunt of the lack of sanitation as they are employed to remove human waste from houses without flushing toilets.
Farrukh Nagar lies only 30 kilometres away from New Delhi.
The job, known as manual scavenging, was made illegal nearly 20 years ago but survives today because the law is rarely enforced.
Bezwada Wilson is a human rights activist in India. He says the reason the women do the job is because they belong to a marginalised group and find it hard to earn a living otherwise.
"Wherever there is very less money, wherever there is stigma, and it is very menial, there is the women because there are 2 simple reasons. One is all these women, all, 100 per cent, are from the scheduled caste Dalit community. Different caste, but scheduled caste Dalit community. The second is within that the patriarchal values are there." said Wilson, from Safai Karmachari Andolan (Sanitary Workers Movement), an organisation working to abolish "manual scavenging" in India.
The Practice is widespread across India with nearly two hundred thousand manual toilet cleaners doing the job, and experts say ninety percent of the cleaners are women.
Poor sewage and waste infrastructure in vast swathes of India is another reason these women continue to do the work no one else wants to do.
Sarasvati has been a cleaner for the past 30 years, starting when she was a teenager.
She visits several homes in the village every day, collecting human excrement from primitive toilets with a wicker basket, broom and shovel.
"I don't like this work. I want another job. I can't survive doing this," Sarasvati said In Farrukh Nagar, the cleaners earn a few dollars a month, while elsewhere they are paid with food instead of cash.
Mother of three Manju stopped working as a "manual scavenger" two years ago. She now sews for a living.
"At home my husband does this work and I now do this work and this is how we makemeet," 30-year-old Manju said.
Poor sanitation continues to haunt India's recent economic success story.
According to the latest census data, almost half of India's 1.2 billion people don't have a toilet at home and are forced to defecate in the open.
The data revealed that more people in India had access to a telephone than a toilet.
The situation is worse in villages and despite the government providing subsidies to build toilets, experts say more needs to be done, especially to combat diseases like diarrhoea which kills hundreds of thousands of Indian children each year.
"Having a toilet in the house is a most important thing for a health point of view, because India's infant mortality rate is very high and one of the reasons is not having a toilet," A.K. Sen Gupta from sanitation charity Sulabh International said.
India is considering new legislation to end the practice known as manual scavenging, with tougher penalties and a prison term for employers.
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