Ranjita was forced into manual scavenging work at nine years old. She earned just a few rupees and a piece of stale bread in return for hours of degrading work cleaning human excrement by hand: ‘They treated us worse than animals.’ she recalled.
Manual scavenging is reserved for the lowest caste in India who are known as Dalit. Despite being outlawed, there are still around 1.2 million manual scavengers, of which 95% are women.
Now a mother, Ranjita was determined to build a better life for her children. Through a community self-help group run by our partner ARUN, she learnt about her rights and felt empowered to apply for a government compensation grant. This then helped her start a tailoring business.
Now Ranjita can provide for her family: ‘My children and I are happy now I am earning with dignity.’