Rajasthan town free from manual cleaning of toilets (Nov 19 is World Toilet Day)
November 19th, 2009 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -
New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Till a few years ago Dalits in Alwar,
Rajasthan were employed in inhumane manual scavenging practices. But
thanks to social activism and NGO Sulabh International, the town was
Thursday declared free from the illegal practice.
Commemorating the birth anniversary of late prime minister Indira
Gandhi and in observance of 'World Toilet Day', Sulabh International
Thursday marked the end of its six-year long fight against the
caste-based tradition in Alwar.
"To eliminate the need for human scavengers, I developed a (easy to
maintain) toilet which is very user friendly and fairly cheap. We have
managed to install this toilet in all the households of Alwar,"
Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International founder said.
"Without this technological innovation, we would have found it
difficult to bring the scavengers into the mainstream. The practice in
itself is a blot on our society," he added.
The practice of manual scavenging, which involves cleaning dry
latrines and clearing carcasses with hands, is an offence under the
Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry (non-flush)
Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993.
However, the practice is still prevalent in rural areas and small
towns. Following an age-old tradition of passing on the practice to
others in their lower caste families, it is women who are the worst
Pathak said that in Alwar the scavengers were given vocational
training in stitching, making noodles and pickles and basic fashion
designing as well as imparting them training in English and Hindi.
"I feel extremely proud when people from all walks of life buy pickles
and noodles prepared by me," said Sushila Chauhan, who left scavenging
Another young girl Dolly, who was till recently a manual scavenger,
said: "In spite of societal pressures and financial constraints, I
continued my studies and completed my graduation with the active
support of Sulabh."
Over 115 women from scavengers families in Alwar have given up the
practice to take up new roles in society.
After Alwar, Pathak says the fight has just begun.
"Our journey has just started and would be complete only when we are
able to free the around 115,037 (as per 2001 census) manual scavengers
from all parts of the country," Pathak said.
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