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While discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the conditions of the Dalit and Adivasi community, this article highlights socio-economic marginalization, exclusion and discrimination that the community faced even prior to the pandemic. The pandemic disproportionately affected Dalit women and their livelihoods. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, sanitation workers were at the frontline, continuing to work without safety gear and stigmatized for their work.

This article brings to light the experiences of sanitation workers during the pandemic, based on data that was collected by the NCDHR in 2021. The various initiatives of the NCDHR to address the problem at hand with the government and communities are discussed. It includes recommendations to bridge the gap that has widened and discusses larger, policy level changes that need to take place for long-term change.

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