Once ostracised by society, manual scavengers tour Parliament

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 23:36

New Delhi: It was an unforgettable moment
for 300 women who used to work as manual scavengers as they
entered the precincts of Parliament to get an experience of
the Lok Sabha today for the first time.

Treated as "untouchables" and ostracised by society for
the nature of their work for decades, the women belong to a
class of workers who used to manually clean human excreta.

The 300 women, who hailed from Alwar and Tonk districts
of Rajasthan, have stopped working as manual scavengers now.
They were received by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as special
guests.

As part of their tour, the women visited the gallery and
also shared some precious moments with the Speaker at her
chamber.

Usha Chaumar from Alwar, Rajasthan was one such woman.
Once at the lowest rung of the social hierarchy, she sat this
afternoon to watch the Lok Sabha proceedings from the
Speaker`s Gallery.

Laxmi, who has worked as a manual scavenger said, "My
in-laws forced me into the dirty job and it made me feel
extremely dirty and undignified for about a decade". She is
now a beautician at a beauty parlour in Alwar.

The Lok Sabha Speaker expressed grave concern over the
age-old practice of manual scavenging and called the women
"real heroines". She also felt the need for an extensive
campaign to uproot such social evils.

Describing caste system as the "greatest tragedy to
befall upon human race", Kumar said that even the poor have a
right to live with self-respect.

Many of these women were helped by NGO Sulabh
International Social Service Organisation, which works in the
field of improving sanitation and uplifting of this
marginalised class to shed their scavenging work.

PTI




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