Thursday, November 08, 2007


The plight of Guzar Ahmed seems almost idyllic when compared to the fate of the following Indian woman.
"Soon after she was married, at the age of 10, Usha Chaumar began collecting human excrement for a living - as her mother and her grandmother did before her. Every day for the next 20 years she gathered night soil from 20 houses without lavatories in the state of Rajasthan, carrying it in a pan on her head to the nearest dump. She was paid 200 rupees (£2) a month - the money usually dropped at her feet so that her hands did not touch her employers." (Times, 2 November)
Apparently there are estimated to be 500,000 Indian Untouchables who still earn a living this way. The Indian government have promised to eradicate open-air defecation by 2012, but as this is the same government who say that talk of children in sweat shops is exaggerated we wouldn't put too much store by such a claim. RD

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