Actors Sathyaraj and Vivek, directors Vetrimaaran and Ram, have joined hands with social organisation Jai Bhim Mandram, to campaign against manual scavenging and to annihilate caste.
Via videos posted on the Jai Bhim Mandram Facebook page, the celebrities have called out to the state and central governments, and have appealed to the public at large, to ensure manual scavenging – the horrible, demeaning, de-humanising, oppressive practice of forcing human beings to clean sewers – is abolished.
Despite a Supreme Court verdict of 2014 which orders states to take steps towards ending manual scavenging, many parts of the country still continue the practice. Apart from the clear and present health risks, manual scavenging reinforces the caste system, and forces people from the most oppressed caste – Dalit – to face daily indignity and danger. In Tamil Nadu, the majority of manual scavengers and sanitation workers come from the Arundhatiyar caste, deemed to be the lowest rung of the caste ladder. The practice deems some human lives less worthy than the others, and of deserving less dignity than the others.
Vivek, in his video, points out that often, manual scavengers can face the sewers only when completely drunk, and this causes them additional problems. He says, as a society we are responsible for the practice of manual scavenging, and asks us to join hands to eradicate the practice of forcing humans to clean other humans’ waste.
Jai Bhim Mandram will also stage a play, titled Manjal (Yellow), based on the novel Thavirkapattavargal, on June 30, in Chennai.
Earlier this year, a powerful documentary – Kakkoos – by Divya Bharathi, hit a raw nerve, and exposed the discrimination, the oppression, and the apathy manual scavengers faced.