'Dehumanising' toilet cleaning banned in India

22nd of October 2013
'Dehumanising' toilet cleaning banned in India

Indian lawmakers have passed a long-promised bill to ban manual cleaning of toilet waste by workers who are seen as the 'ultimate untouchables' under the country's ancient Hindu caste-hierarchy.

Already illegal under a largely ineffective 1993 law, the Congress government pledged to make another attempt at stamping out the practice with the new legislation cleared by parliament's decision-making lower house.

The new act modifies the 1993 law which criminalised the scavengers who clean out primitive toilets by hand, collect the faecal matter in bamboo baskets and buckets and take it away in handcarts to dump.

"This dehumanising practice is inconsistent with the right to live with dignity," social justice minister Kumari Selja said after the bill was passed.

The new measure aims to outlaw employment of manual scavengers and provide retraining and help for their families, Selja said.

The new measure also bans construction of non-flushing toilets that must be emptied by hand.

 

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