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Eradicate Manual Scavenging practice from India

This petition had 1,627 supporters

‘Manual Scavenging’ is an Inhuman and Caste based practice of Manually Cleaning Human excreta with bare hands is a practice known as manual scavenging.

40 year old Choti Bai from Rajasthan was forced to clean human excreta with her bare hands when she was a child, until a few years back when she was rescued. There are thousands of women like her who still perform this illegal practice because of their gender and their caste. Along with hundreds of women, a month back she started a tour across India to create awareness in India, rescue more women like her and take these demands to PM Manmohan Singh telling him to end this p[ractice of Manual Scavenging in India.

Genrations and generations of Dalits and Dalit Muslim have been employed in scavenging work since generation; among them 98 % are women.

It’s a gross human right violation under United Nation- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (India Signatory to treaty) and also violation of Article 17 of Indian Constitution (Abolition of Untochability); other legislation and Act- Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955; Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1976;

The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Dry latrines construction (Prohibition) Act 1993; Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (prevention of atrocities) Act 1989.

In this context, a campaign has started in 2001 known as ‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan’, (National Campaign for Dignity and Elimination of Manual Scavenging) has proven to be a very innovative and effective program to eliminate manual scavenging practice. Its time to eliminate this practice!

Campaign has liberated 11,000 women manual scavengers in various parts of India and urged them to give up this caste-based, unconstitutional practice. In its efforts campaign attain to social, economic, political and cultural rehabilitation of Manual Scavenger.

On 3rd September 2012, “The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012 has been introduced in the Lok Sabha. As it awaits discussion, we raise the following demands:

Join us and help us get the following ecomendations on the bill:

A. A viable and formidable rehabilitation scheme should be developed under the proposed Act which must have provision for social and economic rehabilitation of families liberated from scavenging since 1993 and later, and those who will be liberated in future as well. The scheme should have adequate provision for compensation, education, accommodation and employment.
B. The proposed law must seek apology for historical social injustice meted out to people employed in manual scavenging from generation.
C. To add the provision for action against the district collector and the chief secretary of a state that has been found to harbour the practice of manual scavenging. The bill should also provide for imprisonment and financial penalties against the officials of the urban local bodies, panchayats and government offices responsible for continued existence of dry latrines either in their own premises or within their jurisdictions.
D. Ensure participation of community and organizations working on issues related to scavenging in a national level survey, which must be organized under this Act
E. National scholarship programme should be initiated for the children of liberated families. The scholarship with other necessary facilities should be given from standard one to post-graduate level.
F. Five acre of land should be provided by the Government to family liberated from manual scavenging.
G. Participation of men and women from manual scavenger community should be ensured in any committee constituted for development of people engaged in manual scavenging and those who liberated from the practice.
H. One-time grant of Rs 5 lakh should be provided for dignified self-employment with adequate training for skill development.
I. Employment for 365 days should be ensured for the people engaged in manual scavenging.
J. Programme for rehabilitation of people liberated from scavenging must be gender sensitive as mostly women are engaged in scavenging work.
K. Under the proposed law provision should be made for housing schemes, including Indira Awas Yojna that houses for Dalit community should be inside the village rather than in separate hemlets.
L. Rehabilitation policy and programmes must be redesigned to take into account the social aspects of this oppressive tradition. Loan and subsidy should be replaced by pure grant of no less than Rs. Three Lakh each to be provided to the victims to help them reskill and re-employ themselves according to their free will and capacity.
M. In appointment of worker, assistant and cook in ICDS (Anganwadi) centres, only women from Dalit community should be appointed. Among Dalit, manual scavenging community should be preferred.
N. Complete audit of all schemes made after 1993 for rehabilitation and abolishment of manual scavenging by the Government of India. This audited should be organized by Auditor General of India (CAG) in participation with community and their organizations.
O. Non- schedule caste like Dalit Muslim and Dalit Christian community engaged in manual scavenging should get all facilities and security as in case of scavengers from scheduled castes.
P. People liberated from scavenging and their families should be made entitle for all government schemes on priority basis.
Q. Dry latrines or it vestiges in any urban bodies, panchayats and government office should be immediately demolished. Action should be taken on officer responsible for violation.
R. Indian Railway is the largest institution in the country who uses dry latrines. Railway Ministry must immediately prohibit this practice and for next three years must present progress report in every session of Parliament. So that Government of India can ensure abolishment of scavenging in Indian Railway in stipulated time.
S. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Railways, Planning Commission etc have a key role to play in eradication of practice of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of families freed from it. Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Labour are also key elements as mostly women are engaged in this practice. Thus, we recommend that a coordination committee should be formed with representation of all eight ministries so as to work together.
T. Government of India should form a national level monitoring committee which keeps a constant eye on the practice of manual scavenging. This committee may consist of representative from Ministry, public representatives, state representatives, community representatives as well as representatives from civil society organizations.
U. The Centre and each state government should draw up and publish a white paper every six months up to December 2012 on the situation as regards manual scavenging and dry latrines in their jurisdictions. A national task force consisting of the liberated women and representatives of the government (ministries/departments of social justice, urban development, rural development) and the concerned NGOs should be formed that will closely monitor the progress in eradication of manual scavenging over the next two years.

We, Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan determined to fight and raise our voice against this inhuman practice until we realize our demands. We also urge/appeal to larger society to join us in eradicating Manual Scavenging practice from India.

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