The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has issued a strong statement in support of the movement to end manual scavenging in India. The OHCHR news release is copied below.
The winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2012 is barred from traveling to the Netherlands to receive his award. Marimuthu Bharathan, a Dalit human rights defender from Tamil Nadu, has been refused a passport by the Indian authorities.
PRESS RELEASE: A strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination in India was debated and adopted today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Parliament condemned the high number of atrocities committed against Dalits in India and the Indian government’s insufficient action on the issue of caste discrimination.
A national march – the Maila Mukti Yatra - will cross India with a call for the total eradication of ‘the slavery of manual scavenging’. It happens at a time when prominent campaigners have expressed scepticism towards new legislation against this banned, but continuing, practice.
The Indian government is ready to introduce new legislation to end manual scavenging. The proposed bill includes tough penalties for those who continue to employ people as scavengers.
In a recent episode of his popular talk show, Satyamev Jayate, the actor Aamir Khan focused on caste discrimination and declared it a ‘mental illness’.
Following a targeted campaign by the National Campaign for Dignity and Eradication of Manual Scavenging and other activists, Indian Parliamentarians are now taking the issue of manual scavenging up in Parliament.
These past months have seen a flurry of activity to support the struggle to end the abhorrent practice of Dalits being employed to remove human waste from dry latrines manually which persists despite having been officially abolished by law in India since 1993. In India, the ILO has organised a conference to address this problem, a National Public Hearing has been held by the National Campaign for Dignity and Eradication of Manual Scavenging, reports have been released and media have reported widely about the persistence of the practice.
The ILO and Manual Scavengers in India: Paving the way towards the elimination of caste discrimination
ILO: For millions of people, contemporary India has become a land of opportunities, and the largest democracy in the world has experienced a remarkable economic growth during the last decade. Yet, as India accelerates its pace towards development, many are left behind due to long standing caste-based discrimination in employment. ILO Online reports from Rajasthan, India.
India’s Prime Minister pledges to eliminate manual scavenging from every corner of India in 6 months
In a bold speech on the 17 June at the Conference of the State Welfare and Social Justice Ministers in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged ministers to be more vigilant and do everything in their power to implement the SC/ST act that is meant to protect the human rights of Dalits and Adivasis. The PM paid particular attention to the on-going issue of manual scavenging which he called, “One of the darkest blots on our development process” saying,