Jaipur: Earlier, they removed human excreta
with their hands and were shunned by society as `untouchables`
but after being encouraged to develop vocational skills they
now live with dignity.
Several women from Rajasthan`s Tonk and Alwar districts,
who earlier cleaned conventional toilets by manually removing
the waste and carrying it on their heads, are now literate and
engaged in small-scale industries which helps them lead
independent lives free from social discrimination.
The movement to free these women of the inhuman age-old
practice of manual scavenging was taken by social organisation
Sulabh Sanitation Movement.
"I today feel proud of being literate and independent
after we were encouraged by the organisation to quit the dirty
job and lead a clean and good life. We went by the advice and
today we feel liberated and we are no more untouchables,"
Lakshmi, a former manual scavenger from Alwar, said at a press
Dolly, a young woman from Tonk district, said, "I used to
clean toilets with my mother and grandmother. In 2008 I
received vocational training from the organisation and quit
cleaning human waste. When I used to clean toilets, I was
treated as an untouchable by the upper class.
"Now the upper class women who used to stay away from me
welcome me in their houses and one of them even asked me to
give vocational training to her daughter. Not only me, but all
such women of Tonk have come into the mainstream society," she
Several other women also narrated the story of their
transformation and said they will help in conducting surveys
in other nearby areas to identify how many other scavengers
are still engaged in the practice.