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International Women’s Day:‘These Safaikaramcharis crave for basic rights’

Srinagar, Mar 8: For her, collecting money from people using public toilet is not only her duty but compulsion.

But for 38-year-old Arifa (name changed), a Safaikaramchari working with Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), this jobs runs her family.


Arifa’s job is to collect money from people using toiled at Lal Chowk. “My husband was working in SMC as Safaiwala and after his death, I was appointed at his place. I have been facing a lot of difficulties while performing my duty but I have no other means to feed my four children other than accepting this job,” she said.

She said that she is allergic to excrements but she manages to do this job to support her family. “People visiting the washroom keep passing bad remarks. We keep public washrooms clean so that people don’t face any inconvenience, people should have equal respect for us. We work for the public,” she said.

At a distance of few meters, another 40-year-old Shahzada cleans washrooms with disinfectants.

“Women face difficulties everywhere. Tens of people visit this place every day and many of them feel pity over me as people of our community are regarded as Sheikh Bhai or watij. People don’t like to interact with us,” said Shahzada.

She said, “My heart breaks down every time when people turn away their gaze but I have to work to run my family.”

Shahzada said that sweeper community is downgraded and people don’t prefer to make relations with them. “This day means nothing for us because we never enjoy equal rights as other community women do. When people around the globe celebrate women’s day, we crave for our basic rights. No one talks for our rights,” she added.