‘Had No Choice,’ Says Manual Scavenger Who Cleaned Dry Toilets For 40 Years
Hellhole | The story of a Dalit woman who cleaned dry toilets manually for four decades.
“It felt disgusting when I began cleaning dry toilets. I had no option,” said Santosh, as she remembered the day her mother-in-law took her to a neighbourhood home to clean a dry toilet in Meerut’s Sardhana.
She had been married for barely a week when she was told that this was the work she would be doing. For the next 40 years, Santosh, a member of the Valmiki community, continued to clean dry toilets in Sardhana.
The Quint met her in October 2021 when Santosh was still cleaning dry toilets. “I felt extremely sick on the first day of the job,” she recalled.
“I don’t want my future generations to pick up this work at all,” she had said, sternly, in 2021.
This is the story of a Dalit woman who cleaned dry toilets manually for four decades.
‘Don’t Want My Children to Do This’
The existence of manual scavengers who continue to pick human faeces from toilets which have no flush, has been denied by the central government, which claims that “all identified and eligible manual scavengers have been provided assistance for their rehabilitation.”
Santosh’s story tells otherwise.
“I have five sons and two daughters. I did this work and raised them… I don’t want them or any other family member to take this up,” she said.
In 1993, India banned dry toilets and their cleaning. And yet, many like Santosh found themselves cleaning toilets manually.
In 2021, she told The Quint, “From each house, I earn a monthly salary of Rs 30-Rs 50 only. If I ask for more, they threaten to fire me. Is it written in the fate of Valmikis that they must do this job? Times have changed, we want to do something different… But we don’t get opportunities.”
Courtesy : The Quint
Note: This news piece was originally published in thequint.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights