The Tamil documentary captures the society’s apathy towards those who clean public toilets and sewers, writes Neha Pant

Kakkoos (Latrine) by 26-year-old, documentary filmmaker, Divya Bharathi, is a must-watch because it raises some uncomfortable questions about how we treat those who clean public toilets and sewers. That the film is disturbing in parts is quite apparent, considering the fact that some of its screenings have been cancelled due to ‘threats of attacks,’ by groups that were worked up about it. Despite that, in the last four months, it has been screened more than 200 times across the country and viewed over a 160,000 times on YouTube. To state the obvious, it is enjoying unlikely success. This is because the documentary sheds light on a subject that is largely ignored, manual scavenging. India is the only country that still practices this occupation which is largely caste based. Many ‘scavengers’ die every year while ‘on the job’ because they are denied personal protective equipment by employers looking to cut costs.

According to the Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA), the only organised group that has been lobbying against manual scavenging in India, 1300 people have died so far. In the documentary alone, 27 such deaths have been documented. With this film, the film-maker aims to throw light on the plight of the workers and open up a discourse on the subject of manual scavenging, so that it can be abolished. Watch it below to understand the lengths these people have to go to in order to earn a living and how the society doesn’t let them forget nor escape their jobs.

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