A long awaited bill prohibiting manual scavenging was passed by the Indian parliament on 7 September. But two leading campaign organisations say that much needs to be done before the total eradication of this inhuman practice is achieved.
Hundreds of manual scavengers demonstrated in Delhi on 7 August against government apathy in abolishing the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. Unless legislation is introduced soon, they will return in their thousands and prevent parliament from functioning.
IDSN press release: After travelling thousands of kilometres through 18 Indian states, the Maila Mukti Yatra – a march to eradicate manual scavenging – concluded today with an event in New Delhi. The attendance by high level officials from the Government of India as well as the United Nations is a measure of the Yatra’s success.
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.