Despite India’s Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act of 2013 (and with a 2020 Amendment awaiting approval), it is likely that at least one million people work as manual removers of human waste, helping the 60% or more of Indians who do not have access to flush toilets. The story “Block” puts us inside a manual scavenger’s mind as we accompany Jilakaramma on her rounds in Andhra Pradesh. M. M. Vinodini writes about this labor with true empathy. Entering the daily life of someone who carries out this very stigmatized job creates new understanding of the intense unfairness suffered by these workers. Readers are spared nothing as the story—and human waste itself—wraps around their five senses. As Jilakaramma seeks a solution in the midst of dead ends, the tale exposes casteism, governmental neglect, and economic deprivation, making us keenly aware of every worker’s dignity, no matter the task.
Vinodini, M. M.; Purushotham, Translated by K.; and Zare, edited by Bonnie
"Short Story: “Block”,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 22:
10, Article 12.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol22/iss10/12