To create awareness among women still engaged in manual scavenging, though the government banned the practice two decades ago, a nationwide campaign involving 11,000 Dalit women is now going around the country.

The campaign “Maila Mukti Yatra” (MMY) reached here on Monday. “According to the 2011 Census, there are still 7, 94, 390 dry latrines, where human excreta are cleaned up by humans. Continuance of such inhuman practice is violation of ‘The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines Prohibition Act, 1993.’

On the situation in West Bengal, MMY convenor Rajendra Singh said: “There are 14,0471 dry latrines in the State. As per our knowledge, this is the second highest number of dry latrines after Uttar Pradesh, where there are more than three lakh.”

The MMY, which started from Bhopal on November 30, aims to cover 200 districts in 18 States in 63 days. It will cover 10,000 km. and will conclude on January 31, 2013 in New Delhi.

The campaign aims at setting free 50,000 people. “In our village, people force us to clean human excreta. It’s like we are born to do this. We are not engaged in this work because of livelihood but it is a compulsion of the caste system,” Akhatar Bibi from Uttar Pradesh told The Hindu.

“People threaten us from drawing water from the same well. Our children are denied education because of our work. We do not wish to continue the shameful profession,” she said.

Sulochana said: “We are not allowed to worship in the same temples and cremate in the same ground.”

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