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 Rekha Bai cleans out dry latrines, carries the waste in a bowl on her head and dumps it outside the village © Hugues Siegenthaler

Caste-based slavery: Rekha’s story

After 18 years of carrying human waste on her head, in wicker baskets, to a dumpsite outside her village in the Indian State of Rajasthan—a practice known as “manual scavenging”- Rekha Bai was able to find an alternative livelihood with the support of the NGO Jan Sahas, a civil society organization awarded by the UN Slavery Fund. 

Rekha was one of thousands of former manual scavengers from 18 different Indian States who took part in a 10,000 kilometre march or “Yatra” to protest the continuation of this practice in 2013. Today, Rekha is a daily wage labourer and receives the minimum wage. She is free and is now viewed as a role model for the many others who are still engaged in the manual scavenging practice. 

Read Rekha’s story and others in “The Human Faces of Modern Slavery”.

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 (Man in foreground is handed a small child from a boat) © EPA/A. CARRASCO RAGEL

Migrants deserve respect, safety and dignity

In a joint statement issued to commemorate International Migrants’ Day, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and International Labour Organization Director Guy Ryder called on States to recognize that true sustainable development can only be achieved by ensuring that human rights and labour rights form the cornerstone of fair migration policies.

 (Logo for African descent campaign)  © OHCHR

International Decade of People of African Descent: recognition, justice and development

Around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas, and millions more live in other parts of the world outside the African continent. The international community, in recognition that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected, has proclaimed 2015-2024 International Decade for People of African Descent.

Human Rights in the news

Welcome boost for justice in DRC
High Commissioner Zeid welcomes the high-profile conviction of Lieutenant Colonel Bedi Mobuli Engangela, for committing crimes against humanity between 2005 and 2007 in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as a major boost in the fight against impunity in the country.

Pakistan school killings "savage" - Zeid
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday condemned what he described as “an utterly despicable and incomprehensibly vicious attack on defenceless children” at a mixed school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Spain / Women’s rights
A UN expert group warns that Spain’s efforts to integrate women at all levels and to eradicate domestic violence are been threatened by policies adopted in the wake of the economic crisis.

US / Cuba: Arbitrary detention
UN Working Group on arbitrary detention welcomes the release of detainees in Cuba and the United States, some of whose cases have been followed by the expert group.

"Moving together as one"
On International Human Solidarity Day, UN Independent Expert Virginia Dandan urges all Governments to adopt solidarity as the foundation of the UN development agenda beyond 2015.


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