Target: Pranab Mukherjee, President of India
Goal: End work discrimination against lower class people in India
For decades, the Indian government has supported work discrimination against lower class people in India, forcing them to take on physically demanding and unsanitary jobs for little to no pay. One form of work forced upon India’s low-caste is “manual scavenging,” the cleaning of human waste, sewers, and septic tanks using straw baskets and their bare hands.
In a report released by Human Rights Watch, communities considered low-caste are forced to perform manual labor that, in many other villages, is looked down upon. Children as young as 12 years old and women travel long distances, with buckets and baskets, to nearby homes where they clean human excrement from dry toilets with no protective clothing or masks. Males are expected to work long, tedious hours cleaning sewers and septic tanks in unsafe conditions as well.
The caste system in India proves to be a devastating reality for those believed to be of lower rank, as they are called the “untouchables,” or Dalits, and are expected to practice manual scavenging. Because low-caste people are ineligible for other kinds of work, many of them have no other choice but to take on these dangerous and unhealthy professions. Low-caste workers frequently have their wages withheld by government and local officials, or receive leftover food, grain, old clothes and firewood as compensation. And, in villages where “untouchability” practices are performed, food is often thrown at them and community members vehemently shy away from even making eye contact.
Further, the repeated unprotected handling of human excrement weighs heavily on the health and well-being of these people. The Human Rights Watch report reveals that of the 130 people interviewed, more than 100 of them suffer from constant nausea and headaches, respiratory and skin diseases, anemia, jaundice, trachoma and even carbon monoxide poisoning.
These injustices must end now. Sign the petition to urge President Pranab Mukherjee to abolish discriminatory caste-based customs, and stop work discrimination against lower class people.
Dear President Pranab Mukherjee,
Archaic and discriminatory, caste-based customs are, in some cases, killing lower class populations and compromising the health and well-being of many innocent people. The practice of manual scavenging is not only detrimental to their health, but utterly degrading. What’s worse is that the Indian government seems to be in favor of these practices.
No one should be forced to clean human excrement simply because they are deemed “untouchable” by a higher class of individuals. These marginalized communities deserve to be liberated of social stigmas, discrimination and social exclusion through the termination of these silly caste-based customs. From jaundice to carbon monoxide poisoning, these people risk their lives every day performing manual scavenging, simply because others don’t respect their existence.
I urge you to get rid of caste-based customs and the practice of manual scavenging, and to help lower class people in India obtain an education, choose their own employment and receive the compensation they deserve so they may provide for their families appropriately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Evstafiev via Wikimedia