Living with stigma in India

For India’s ‘rat catchers,’ stigmatization undermines the self-esteem vital to learning.
For India’s ‘rat catchers,’ stigmatization undermines the self-esteem vital to learning.

‘The higher-caste students tell us that we smell bad,’ one girl said. Another added: ‘The ridicule we face prevents us from coming to school and sitting with higher-caste children.’ These girls from the hamlet of Khalispur, near the city of Varanasi, belong to the Mushara or ‘rat catcher’ community of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India.

Despite an entitlement to receive a stipend, midday meals and uniforms, few Mushara girls attend Khalispur’s government primary school. ‘We are forced to sit on the floor,’ one girl said. ‘The desks and benches in the classroom are meant for the children from the higher castes.’

Source: Global March against Child Labour

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