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Providing dignity to untouchables

Feb 08, 2012

Campaign for Dignity, an ActionAid supported campaign in Madhya Pradesh, is working towards motivating the local females trapped in the practice of manual scavenging.

Madhya Pradesh: The Garima Abhiyan (Campaign for Dignity) is helping to give the women trapped in the illegal practice dignity and is working with families to get their children into education and tackle the discrimination they face in schools.

The practice of manual scavenging refers to the physical collecting of human excreta from dry latrines and carrying them via the head for disposal.

Despite being banned through an act in 1993, manual scavenging is still forced upon women and girls from the most marginalised castes in India and continues in various parts of the country. Perpetuation of this practice is punishable with imprisonment.

Enforced through caste and patriarchy, those engaged in the practice are seen as impure and un-touchable. They live on the outskirts of villages and are not allowed to be a part of social-religious events or use public facilities such as drinking water.

Identifiable in any village because of the cane baskets, brooms and small metal sheets that they carry, the women and girls face extreme stigma and humiliation. Socially ostracised, it becomes almost impossible for them to leave this practice.

The ActionAid supported campaign also aims to focus on implementation of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act which outlines the measures to be taken by government, which includes the providing of alternative employment for those women trapped in the practice of manual scavenging.

Source : ActionAid
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