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Until recently, Usha Chaumar used to be a manual scavenger in Alwar, Rajasthan, but she is now presented as the changing face of Indian society.

Once ostracised by society, Usha Chamour is now all set to speak at a conference in England.

Until recently, Ms. Chamour (42) was engaged in manual scavenging at Alwar in Rajasthan.

She has now been invited to participate in the annual conference of the British Association of South Asian Studies at the University of Portsmouth, England next week. She will speak at a special panel on ‘Sanitation and Women’s Rights in India.’

The British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) is one of the world’s leading learned societies for the study of South Asia.

Ms. Chamour of Hazurigate Harijan colony used to remove night soil and was treated as an ‘untouchable’ till she was rescued — along with many other women engaged in the same work — and rehabilitated by NGO Sulabh International. She is now working as a motivator to eradicate the age-old practice.

Ms. Chamour will visit England with Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, who has also been invited to address the special session.

Usha Chamour was married at 10 and forced into manual scavenging which was the only livelihood her family had known for generations.

Transforming lives

Sulabh International has helped transform the women’s lives by teaching them other livelihood options such as embroidery and making noodles and pickle. In Alwar and Tonk, Sulabh has helped manual scavengers become small-time vendors — they are now even invited to upper caste households for weddings.

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