Desperate, disgusted, but proud: India's human waste removers

It’s called manual scavenging — the removal of human waste or “night soil” from sites where there is no flush system.

Though the Indian parliament passed The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, in 1993 and reinforced the ban in 2013, private contractors hired by the municipal government continue to employ them.

Ganesh Shinde, 42, has been doing this job since 2007. “Of course I don’t like it,” he tells me. “But I have to feed my family.”

Shinde’s day begins around 6.30 a.m., seven days a week. He’s a contractor who works for the city of Mumbai, earning just $5 a day. Usually, he walks to work. Shinde carries a broom, while his colleague carries a tin plate. Shinde sweeps, his partner scoops.