June 3, 2020

Have you got a minute?

Susan Steell

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AcrylicsJust A Rope, 201918" Diameter

I was inspired when I read about the Indian Dalit Caste and how they are the cleaners of all sewers, septic tanks and dry toilets in India. These have been manually cleaned without the use of PPE Personal Protection Equipment by these poor workers and it’s partly due to the Caste system and partly Political. What affected me most was an interview I read with one worker. He said it was his ‘Duty’ to clean the septic tank in his village. He comes home from his engineering job once a month to do his ‘Duty’. Like all sewer workers he said he has to be inebriated or high before he goes in a sewer. One worker dies every 5 days because they have no PPE, all they have is “Just a Rope”. Many die due to inhaling the fumes or from bacteria entering their bodies. Councils in India have now sub-contracted these jobs to smaller businesses: washing their hands to any claims made. The Dalits are seen as the ‘Unwashed’ in Indian society, no-one cares for their protection or safety, even Doctors have turned away sewer workers from hospitals. Dreadful to think this practise continues to this day.