MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A flagship government program to modernize India’s sanitation has failed to tackle the practice of low caste women clearing faeces by hand, and has even exacerbated the problem by building toilets not connected to water supplies, campaigners say.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission, with much fanfare after he took office in 2014, sweeping a Delhi street with a broom. Since then, thousands of toilets have been built across the country.
But Dalit communities, especially women, are still forced to be manual scavengers, a euphemism for clearing faeces from dry toilets and open drains by hand, despite laws to end the practice. The workers have it harder now, activists said.
“Swachh Bharat has diverted attention from ending manual scavenging, and makes it seem like the whole country is cleaning. But if that’s the case, then why are people …
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