Caste Discrimination is one of the worst and most widespread human rights abuses existing today. It is India’s ‘Hidden Apartheid’.
Rashmi Munikempanna, Barsha Chakraborty
Commonwealth Foundation, Eva Reckitt Trust Fund, AB charitable Trust, Westcroft Trust
Caste Discrimination is one of the worst and most widespread human rights abuses existing today. It is India’s ‘Hidden Apartheid’. It is estimated that around 1.3 million Dalits in India, mostly women, make their living through manual scavenging – a term used to describe the job of removing human excrement from dry toilets and sewers using basic tools such as thin boards, buckets and baskets, lined with sacking, carried on the head.
Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) work with women who suffer from cast discrimination in India and by partnering with PhotoVoice we aimed to facilitate a body of photographic work that can be used in the campaign to eradicate manual scavenging in India. SKA and the Dalits Solidarty Network will use the participants photographs and writings to target policy and decision makers in the End Manual Scavenging campaign. This project created powerful images that enabled people directly involved in manual scavenging to talk about the effect of the practice and to speak directly to public audiences.
- To create a body of powerful participant-produced photographic work that can be used to advocate and campaign for the eradication of Manual Scavenging, specifically within the Foul Play campaign
- To build the capacity of SKA and DSN UK to deliver their Foul Play campaign by developing photography for advocacy
- To train 12 SKA manual scavenger workers to use photography as a tool for activism
The workshops were aimed at facilitating the production of images by the participants that could be used as a tool for their activism. Eleven participants were taught to use a digital camera in order to document their lives and to tell personalised stories about the issues affecting themselves, their families and community. Once confident with using a camera the participants visited a community in Seemapuri which consists mainly of Bengali Muslims involved with the sorting out of garbage. Amongst them live four/five families who belong to the Valmiki community (the lowest in the caste hierarchy amongst Dalits). This gave SKA a greater understanding of where the participants come form, what they think about themselves and manual scavenging.
PhotoVoice taught five women and six men (they ranged from 21-60 years of age)