Cleaning Human Waste “Manual Scavenging,” Caste, and Discrimination in India

Cleaning Human Waste “Manual Scavenging,” Caste, and Discrimination in India

BhangiLiterally, “broken identity,” a derogatory name used to refer to people from the caste traditionally responsible for manual scavenging.

Dalit: Literally “broken people,” a self-designated term for so-called “untouchables” who traditionally occupy the lowest place in the Indian caste system.

Dry toilet: Toilet that does not flush, is not connected to a septic tank or sewage system, and requires daily manual cleaning.

FIR: First Information Report, recorded complaint of a crime filed by police.

Panchayat/Gram Panchayat: Village-level administration, usually elected officials, responsible for preparing and executing plans for economic and social development.

Open defecation: Defecation on roads and plots that requires manual disposal. A 2010 report from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found that 665 million Indians—more than half the population—practice open defecation.

Pradhan/SarpanchVillage headman.

Scheduled Castes: Caste groups, also known as Dalits, that are eligible for quotas in education and government jobs and protected under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. Muslim and Christian Dalits are not included as Scheduled Castes and are therefore not currently protected under the 1989 Act.

Superintendent of Police (SP): Officer in charge of a police district.

Wada toilet: Designated defecation area enclosed by four 5-foot walls that requires manual cleaning. Also referred to as a wadolia toilet.