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Dear potential Funders and Sponsors,

Did you know… eight out of 100 babies are born prematurely in South Africa?

The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) is a registered nonprofit dedicated to bringing down South Africa’s soaring infant mortality rate by supplying donated breastmilk (DBM) to vulnerable, premature infants in their precarious first weeks of life. The recipients of the milk are vulnerable pre-term infants, babies orphaned by HIV/AIDS and in some cases babies whose mothers are unable to provide them with milk. Our target population is babies born under 30 weeks, under 1.8kg and younger than 14 days.

The SABR collects, pasteurises, supplies and re-distributes DBM among hospital facilities in the Gauteng, Free-State, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and North West. The SABR is geared to deliver donated breastmilk into each and every part of South Africa within 24-48 hours while ensuring that DBM is of the highest quality and meets the regulatory standards. SABR provides this essential service in both public (80 percent) and private hospitals (20 percent), providing 87 hospitals with DBM on a regular basis. We have also setup and strive to maintain 44 human milkbanks in hospitals around South Africa and we are currently the largest human milk banking partner to the South African Department of Health and Netcare. SABR’s impact is evident in the number of premature babies that it has assisted: in one calendar year, between March 2014 and February 2015, SABR provided donated breastmilk to 2 834 critically-ill babies. This is a 67.8 percent increase on the previous year where SABR supported 1689 babies.

The organisation has grown rapidly since inception and we continue to strive towards becoming leaders in advocating and managing the quality and ethics of human milk banking in South Africa. As it continues to grow, the demands and responsibility of sustaining and growing human milk banking is large. The SABR appeals for assistance in any capacity within the following divisions of SABR:

  • Set-up and installation of human milk banks (pasteurising machine, freezers, fridge, laminar flow bench, remote monitoring, branding and painting);
  • Microbiology and Serology (testing of donors and DBM on a regular basis);
  • Setup and management of breastfeeding rooms at the Mamamagic Baby Expo shows in South Africa (X4 shows in 2016);
  • Operations of the SABR Head Office (Laptops, travel costs, office equipment);
  • Operations of human milkbanks (quality assurance and salaries of community-based workers and/ nurses who run the milkbanks);
  • Training of Human milkbank operators;
  • Breastfeeding awareness across South Africa; and
  • Pasteurising machines.

If you would like to assist or you need more information, contact Chelsey at chelsey@sabr.org.za.

For more about the South African Breastmilk Reserve, refer to www.sabr.org.za.

A report published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) today notes that very few South Africans benefit from current empowerment polices. Since these policies have failed to benefit the poor and disadvantaged, few people support them either. The IRR report calls on lawmakers to take their responsibility to empower the poor more seriously and to adopt new empowerment policies that will be far more effective. 

The report is based on a field survey on transformation and empowerment commissioned the IRR and released today in @Liberty, the IRR’s policy bulletin. The field survey canvassed the views of a carefully balanced sample of 2 245 people, all of whom were interviewed in their languages of choice by experienced field teams.

According to IRR policy head, Dr Anthea Jeffery, “current empowerment policies benefit only a relatively small elite. They offer nothing to poor people.”

She added: “Field survey results show, for example, that only 16.6 percent of black respondents agree that affirmative action in employment has helped them personally. By contrast, 83.3 percent of blacks disagree. Only approximately one in ten people has benefited from BEE [Black Economic Empowerment].”

South Africa cannot hope to expand opportunities for the disadvantaged without much faster economic growth, millions of new jobs, and schools that are effective in imparting essential knowledge and skills. 

According to the IRR, current policies need to be replaced with ‘Economic Empowerment for the Disadvantaged’ or ‘EED’. EED is a solution to the empowerment challenge that has been developed within the IRR to address the failure of current policies. 

EED is specifically focused on ensuring that empowerment policy attracts new investment, ensures job creation, and reaches large numbers of poor and disadvantaged people. By contrast, if current policies are retained, this will further reduce investment, growth, and jobs and bring about even more harmful political, social, and economic consequences. 

Says Dr Jeffery: “Current empowerment policies have so little popular support and have had such limited success that the Government has very little to fear - and very much to gain - from shifting to the EED alternative.”

Further details of the field survey results are set out in the latest issue of @Liberty, available on the IRR website by clicking here.

For more about the Institute of Race Relations, refer to www.irr.org.za.

The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Senzo Mchunu,
 
The Ministers of Arts and Culture, Justice and Correctional Services, Basic Education and all Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
 
Former KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize,
 
MECs, MPs and MPLs,
 
The Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, James Nxumalo and all Councillors,
 
The leadership of the governing party and all other political parties present,
 
Religious, traditional and business leaders present,
 
Fellow South Africans,
 
Sanibonani, good day, dumelang, thobela, molweni!
 
We extend warm greetings to all South Africans and all freedom loving people in our country, on this 2016 Human Rights Day.
 
Siyanibingelela nonke ngalosuku olubalulekile ezweni lakithi, lokukhumbula nokugcizelela amalungelo abantu.
 
Usuku lolu esikhumbula ngalo indlela ayecindezelwe ngalo lamalungelo ngeminyaka yobandlululo, kwaze kwabulawa abantu, abanye baboshwa, kanti abanye bayohlala iminyaka eminingi ekudingisweni.
 
Sikhumbula nendlela abantu abamnyama ababephethwe ngayo njengezinto nje, bengathathwa njengabantu abaphilayo nabanemizwa, abacabangayo nabanelungelo lokuba la ezweni labo.
 
On this solemn occasion, we acknowledge all South Africans who suffered gross human rights violations during the period of apartheid colonialism, including murder, torture or imprisonment.
 
In particular, we remember the victims of the Sharpeville massacre, where 69 people were mercilessly killed and scores injured when police opened fire on demonstrators who were protesting against the hated pass laws, in Sharpeville.
 
On the same day, police also shot and killed three protesters in KwaLanga in Cape Town and injured many others.
 
We will never forget incidents such as Sharpeville which demonstrated the heroism of our people who stood up for their rights.
 
We thank the United Nations for declaring the 21st of March as International Human Rights Day.
 
This was a powerful recognition of the correctness and just nature of our struggle for liberation.
 
Compatriots
 
This year, we have chosen the theme ‘South Africans United Against Racism’ for Human Rights Day. We have done so due to the need to continue working together to eliminate racism and its manifestations in our country.
 
Our mission since 1994 is to create a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. This is the task of every South African.
 
Earlier this year, our country experienced explosions of anger due to racist utterances and writings which reminded South Africans that the vestiges of white supremacy and racism still exist in some sections of society.
 
It became clear that there are people who still yearn for the past, where black people were treated like second class citizens because of their skin colour.
 
We know that the majority of South Africans abhor racism and racial discrimination. That is why our theme correctly says that we are united against racism.
 
The struggle against apartheid was in the main a struggle against racism, which is the notion that one group of people is better than others, and is superior to others simply because of their skin colour.
 
Successive white governments entrenched racial oppression and segregation which was enforced brutally by force. The apartheid regime systematically divided South Africans and caused untold damage to our country, which will take decades to reverse.
 
Race determined where people would live or work, which buses and trains they could board, which schools their children could attend and even which pavements they could walk on in some cities such as Pretoria.
 
The best land was taken away while black people were shuffled into reserves and had to seek permission to live and work in urban areas. This gave rise to the pass laws and the Sharpeville massacre.
 
Racist South Africa was described eloquently by former African National Congress (ANC) President, Chief Albert Luthuli, in his December 1961 Nobel Peace Prize lecture entitled Africa and Freedom.
 
He said;
 
“Here the cult of race superiority and of white supremacy is worshipped like a god. Few white people escape corruption and many of their children learn to believe that white men are unquestionably superior, efficient clever, industrious and capable; that black men are, equally unquestionably, inferior, slothful, stupid, evil and clumsy’’.
 
President Nelson Mandela also described how white supremacy manifested itself in apartheid South Africa in his famous statement from the dock during the Rivonia Trial.
 
He said; “The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of the policy of white supremacy. White supremacy implies black inferiority.
 
“Legislation designed to preserve white supremacy entrenches this notion. Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably performed by Africans. When anything has to be carried or cleaned the white man will look around for an African to do it for him, whether the African is employed by him or not. Because of this sort of attitude, whites tend to regard Africans as a separate breed.
 
They do not look upon them as people with families of their own; they do not realise that they have emotions - that they fall in love like white people do; that they want to be with their wives and children like white people want to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough money to support their families properly, to feed and clothe them and send them to school.”
 
Madiba, Luthuli, Tambo [Oliver], Helen Joseph, Ahmed Kathrada and many others dedicated their lives to fighting racism and racial discrimination in order to end the type of society painted by our two illustrious leaders.
 
They fought for the society described in the Constitution of the Republic.
 
Madiba signed the Constitution into law in December 1996 in Sharpeville, and this year we mark 20 years of this historic act.
 
The Preamble of the Constitution calls upon all of us to heal the divisions of the past and to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
 
A lot has been done since 1994 to promote nonracialism, reconciliation, inclusion and unity.  
 
In this regard, we would like to extend a special message to the black majority in our country.
 
They were treated as lesser human beings.
 
They were denied all the rights that human beings in modern civilised societies are entitled to including equal citizenship in their own country and land.
 
Despite all this, they extended a hand of friendship and agreed on the need to build a united, reconciled and non-racial society. 
 
This was important for the transition to a new society and was an enormous contribution to building a new South Africa.
 
Namhlanje, sizwakalisa ukuyibonga kakhulu indlu emnyama ngokuvuma kwayo ngo 1994 ukuthi ubuhlungu bengcindezelo nenhlupheko, ikubeke eceleni, ivume ukuxolela abamhlophe ukuze sakhe iNingizimu entsha.
 
Siyazi lokhu kwakungelula neze, Futhi namanje kusenzima ngoba abaningi bathi isandla esibuyayo esiza nokubuyisana kwabaningi abamhlophe asibonakali. Kuba sengathi umsebenzi wabamnyama kuphela ukusebenzela ukubuyisana. Udaba okumele ludingidwe lolu sibhekane nalo ngqo njengesizwe.
 
Today, we also salute white compatriots who did not allow their position of having been born into privilege, to make them close their eyes to violations of human dignity and crimes against humanity. There are many white freedom fighters who joined the struggle for liberation and contributed to the attainment of freedom and democracy in our country.
 
We must work harder to eliminate that the view that reconciliation is a one way process where the black majority extends a hand of friendship, but with little reciprocation from their white compatriots.
 
Compatriots,
 
Indeed, we have done a lot to build a non-racial society.
 
However, the apartheid damage was deep. There is still a long way to go before we can say we have successfully reversed the impact of institutionalised racism in our country or to remove prejudice among those who subscribe to the notion of white supremacy.
 
We urge all South Africans black and white, to become part of this journey to a new society.
 
Government has since 1994, worked systematically to reverse the legacy of apartheid and racial discrimination.
 
We wish to emphasise and reiterate our determination as government to put an end to racial discrimination in all its forms and wherever it occurs.
 
We must remove vestiges of racism in the workplace, in the education system, the health sector, in the administration of justice and generally in access to government services and in the private sector.
 
There is continuous provision of basic services such as water, housing and infrastructure, electricity, quality education and health care and basically to ensure that black people live in dignity.
 
The ending of economic marginalisation is key to the reversal of racism and its manifestation in the economy.
 
The economy is still primarily in the hands of the white minority in terms of control, ownership and management.
 
Transformative laws aimed at de-racialising the economy or the workplace have been introduced by the democratic governments since 1994. These include employment equity laws and broad-based black economic empowerment.
 
Examples of new transformation programmes also include the targeted creation of black industrialists which is aimed at opening up the manufacturing sector to the black community. The business community has responded warmly to this programme.
 
The land restitution and redistribution programme is also one of the key programmes aimed at reversing the legacy of the country’s racist past.
 
In memory of those who died in Sharpeville, Uitenhage and Cape Town, and also in memory of millions who have suffered racial oppression and racism in our country, we say today that let us unite to build a South Africa that is free of racism and prejudice.
 
To achieve this goal, we need to do a few things as South Africans.
 
We must openly and consciously discuss notions of white supremacy and how it manifests itself. When such views are held by people in positions of power, they undermine the nation’s efforts to achieve an equal and non-racial society.
 
People must be vigilant and point out instances of racial discrimination in the provision of services in both the private and public sectors, should this exist.
 
Private companies, religious institutions, non-governmental organisations and state institutions must run campaigns and awareness programmes on the manifestations of racism so that we can eliminate denial and claims of ignorance about how this scourge manifests itself.
 
It is of critical importance to end the denial and the tendency to downplay accusations of racism and undertake defensive stances. We should also be aware of the fact that some racists use art as a form of expression. We should thus be alert to subtle and disguised racism perpetuated through the stereotyping of individuals or groups of people in the media, through cartoons and satire.
 
The acceptance of the problem will lead to unity in finding solutions. And solutions must come from all sectors and individuals, and not government only.
 
There is also a tendency to ridicule those who seek to expose racism or racial discrimination, as a form of defence by those who refuse to acknowledge the existence of racism, or who are racists themselves and want the status quo to remain.
 
Bakwethu, sithi kuyacaca ukuthi ubandlululo lusekhona ezinhliziyweni zabaningi.
 
Lokhu kudinga ukubhekwa impela ngoba yikho okwenza ukuthi abantu banganikwa imisebenzi ephakeme ngoba kucatshangwa ukuthi abazi lutho ngoba nje bemnyama.
 
Sithi ke kumele sibambisane sonke silwe nobandlululo nokucwasana ngebala emisebenzini, kwezemidlalo nezokungcebeleka, ezikoleni nakweziningi ezinye izindawo.
 
There were calls earlier this year for Government to introduce laws or institutional mechanisms to deal with hate speech and hate crimes.
 
Government, through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, has drafted A National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
 
This Plan emanates from the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action which was adopted at the 3rd World Conference Against Racism that was hosted by South Africa and was held here in Durban in 2001.
 
The Plan is designed to raise awareness of anti-racism, equality and anti-discrimination issues among public officials, civil society and the general public, mobilizing support from a wide range of people.
 
This policy framework will encourage the collection of information regarding racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
 
It will help us ensure that the concerns of individuals and groups encountering racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are not brushed aside or underplayed, and that they are more effectively addressed.
 
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is tasked with coordinating the development and finalisation of this Plan.
 
A National Action Plan Steering Committee which comprises government departments, Chapter 9 institutions, international human rights agencies, faith based organisations as well as civil society organisations has been established to enable wide consultations on the Plan.
 
Once final, the Plan will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Commissioner for Human Rights. It will form the basis for the development of a comprehensive policy framework against the scourges of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
 
To complement the National Action Plan, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is finalising the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which is expected to be tabled in parliament by September this year.
 
The law is intended to make hate crimes and hate speech a statutory offence.
 
We urge all to participate in the shaping of this important legislation.
 
We are aware of the fact that government cannot legislate against racist beliefs and prejudice.  Solutions will require the consciousness and willingness of those who harbour such harmful beliefs to educate themselves about human rights and equality.
 
They need to assist themselves to understand that those who look different from them, are not inferior.
 
It also requires that we educate our schoolchildren and the youth about the non-racial society we are building. Government has begun programmes of promoting patriotism and a national identity already amongst our children.
 
Symbols such as the national anthem, the national flag and the preamble to the Constitution are being promoted in schools.
 
Government, through the Department of Arts and Culture, is developing a non-racial heritage architecture in the country. A major new project, the Liberation Heritage Route is also to be implemented, and will feature sites of significance in all nine provinces.
 
Statues of our liberation heroes are being erected while their graves and other important sites are being declared national heritage sites.
 
We are pleased to announce here that government will build a statue of the late Co-President of the United Democratic Front, and one of the leading stalwarts of our liberation movement, Mr Archie Gumede, in Durban.
 
This will be a fitting tribute to a patriot who dedicated his life to the attainment of liberation in this country.
 
Compatriots,
 
The country experienced horrific attacks on foreign nationals in April last year in parts of Durban and parts of Johannesburg. The majority of South Africans spoke out strongly against the attacks.
 
They reaffirmed our country’s support of human rights and dignity for all.
 
We hosted the inaugural Africa Month programme in May last year and are planning for the second Africa Month celebrations this year to promote peace and friendship amongst South Africans and fellow Africans. Xenophobia has no place in South Africa and will not be tolerated.
 
Compatriots
 
When we speak of human rights we include the rights of all including compatriots with disabilities. The United Nations in 2011 declared the 21st of March as World Down Syndrome Day.
 
We call on all South Africans to pledge solidarity with South Africans with Down syndrome and their families and accord them the respect and understanding they deserve. 
 
We wish all South Africans with Down Syndrome well on this special day.
 
Compatriots
 
We have set ourselves on a mission to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
 
We are building a South Africa in which nobody will be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, in the provision of services and opportunities by both the public and private sectors.
 
As we proceed with this mission, we are guided by the words of our beloved Former President Nelson Mandela who said:
 
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
 
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
 
As South Africans, we say no to racism and racial discrimination.
 
We say no to xenophobia
 
We say no to prejudice and intolerance.
 
I wish you all a meaningful Human Rights Day!
 
I thank you.
 

Dear Comedians,
 
I reflect on some comedy where you unashamedly ‘go to town’ literally poking fun at the disability sector and its limitations with particular reference to our sexuality. That your audience took no notice of your blatant insult to the disability community and instead exploded in roars of laughter exposes stereotypes that are permanently visited on people with disabilities, some of whom are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, etc. of able-bodied persons. Question is: how did we get to this point?
 
In case you were not aware, identity can be structured upon shared social experience; that there are fixed identities of persons with disabilities; and that the self plays a significant role in the formation of identity. However, it is important for you to understand the rhetoric versus practical realities in order to assess what can free persons with disabilities from fixed identities that have been enforced overtime by regulatory regimes embodied in cultural and societal prejudices.
 
As would be adequately articulated below in tandem with the gist of this letter, a person with disability has the capability of constructing a self-identity not constituted in impairment but rather independent of it, and of accepting impairment as a reality that he or she lives with without losing a sense of self. Therefore, disability in a socio-cultural context can be defined as a barrier to participation of people with impairments or chronic illnesses arising from an interaction of the impairment or illness with discriminatory attitudes, cultures, policies or institutional practices.
 
The traditional view of disability often focuses on the individual, highlighting incapacities or failings, a defect, or impairment. This narrow focus creates obstacles to participation on equal terms since an individual who seems to lack certain capacities may not be able to attain autonomy.
 
Society often does not take into account the ways in which impairment is part of humanity. Instead, it views the effects of impairment as obstacles. This emanates from the interaction between persons with disabilities and society. Society desires that a person with a disability fit into societal structures, rather than structures fitting into the person's with disability needs.
 
You will recall that from time to time contemporary society has regarded impairment as a handicap. In essence, the idea of a ‘handicap’ is a form of discrimination that has social origins. This creates disadvantages that persons with disabilities experience not necessarily as emanating from some biological determination but rather from socially, culturally, economically, and politically constructed obstacles.
 
Disability therefore becomes equivalent to social oppression within which government policies, state authorities, and institutions (including the arts) are all key factors in the formation of structures that oppress persons with disabilities.
 
The solution, however, is to give persons with disabilities citizenship rights and change society's material structure, since the oppressive mechanisms that transform impairments to disabilities are enhanced by structures that are embedded in ideas and attitudes of non-disabled persons.
 
The universal construct of the self is the product of the fact that every human being is aware of his individuality. It is a premise that human beings are consciously aware of their own lives and it is through reflexivity that we become aware of a consciously constructed self.
 
Self is seen as a universal human property, something that we must all possess and a characteristic that we must all develop. Self in this context enables us to reflect on who we are, whom we choose to identify with, and what we choose to do as matters of choice, not compulsion.
 
Group membership in this kind of reflection is no longer synonymous with identity formation. We are able to choose our identity and ignore and even reject identities fostered on us as a result of ascribed characteristics. We do all these by creation of narratives about the self which, provided we can sustain these narratives and work to maintain our sense of self.
 
As a person with a disability, I challenge the social construction of what is regarded as normal and a normal body and embrace the difference of a body with impairment as what is normal or not. Self-identity hence becomes a product of a conscious action that questions identity dominated by social ascription.
 
That my identity and sexuality therefore becomes the subject of hilarious satire (at least within your limited scope) thus exhibits so profoundly as a manifestation of deep-rooted prejudices that are visited upon the disability sector. It might be useful to remind you that in concert with sentiments expressed above, disability is not a choice but an occurrence or an ensemble of a number of forces at play, most of which unpalatable.
 
Challenging social systems, in which persons with disabilities are subordinated through relations that are contradictory to their own views of self, helps persons with disabilities to create self-identities that are far removed from biomedical models that present disability as tragedy. Furthermore, the self-identity created does not necessarily show off difference; is it not about celebrating difference or diversity, or taking pride in identity through labelling, but about defining disability in its own terms, under its own terms of reference.
 
In its 2011 Profile of Disability in South Africa, Statistics South Africa records that the degree of difficulty (disability) measure showed that females had the highest percentage of persons experiencing mild and severe difficulties across all types of difficulties except for communication, where both males and females had the same proportion of persons who had experienced mild difficulties. The population group profile shows that black Africans had the highest proportion of persons with disabilities (7.8 percent), followed by the white population group (6.5 percent). No variations were observed among the coloured and Indian/Asian population groups.
 
There is low labour market absorption of persons with disabilities. The degree of difficulty is related to economic participation, with increased difficulty being associated with a decrease in labour market participation. In five of the six functional domains, employment levels were highest among persons with no difficulty and lowest among persons with severe difficulties across the provinces.
 
Statistics South Africa further notes that the low representation of persons with disabilities in the work place leaves a number of questions unanswered: is it non-compliance, prejudice or insufficient skills, or a combination of factors including environmental obstacles, misconceptions and prejudice about capabilities of persons with disabilities to perform certain jobs remain one of the major obstacles to employment opportunities and their exclusion from opportunities for promotion in their careers.
 
The exclusion of persons with disabilities from work imposes a financial burden on their families, and often translates into impoverishment of individuals and households of persons with disabilities, particularly those in under-resourced communities.
 
Rights are formulated to protect aspects of human dignity. All human beings need rights to survive hard times. Despite the noble function that rights are expected to perform in human life, violation of the same rights is experienced from all directions. Most often the violation becomes so legitimate that the rights of persons with disabilities are seen as privileges and are thus not given adequate recognition.
 
Disability is both a human rights and social issue. Thus legitimising disability for the purpose of acknowledging capabilities and limitations becomes vital. Self-identity is more tested in this aspect because unless one is very sure of one's self and has formulated an adequate self-concept, the subject may not be sure of his or her own capabilities and limitations; they may be at a loss as to the relation between the extent of personal rights and dysfunctions. Consequences might include misconstruing rights for privileges and seeking a privilege as a right. A true positive identity should be able to distinguish the two and use the same to fight winning battles.
 
As persons with disability, we are able to choose our identity and ignore and even reject identities forced on us as a result of ascribed characteristics.
 
We do this by creation of narratives about the self, and provided we can sustain these narratives we are able to maintain our sense of self. Through this approach, the problems associated with conflating identities into essential, fixed, pre-ordained, singular categories can be avoided, such as the homogenisation of persons with disabilities into a singular group or the ascription of a single identity. As persons with disability, we are entitled to enjoyment of human rights and acquisition of dignity through these rights.
 
Developing strong self-identity and a positive self-concept empowered us to such an extent that fighting for our rights emanates from a clear understanding of the self, first as persons and secondly as members of a group of persons in similar circumstances. The actualisation of the self-concept would also enable us to fight for individual rights apart from group rights.
 
Moreover, group membership in this kind of understanding does not affect our self-identity formation. It has been and will hopefully continue to be a powerful and creative force, but as persons with disabilities, will need self-identity first and foremost to become a part and parcel of the wider group or movement. Special education, legislation, the media, and the Human Rights Commission can become spearheads in mobilising changes in attitudes and stereotypes that are so pervasive.
 
On your favourite subject of sex, you may be interested to know that research has shown that persons with disabilities may be denied the right to establish relationships and could also be forced into unwanted marriages, where they may be treated more as housekeepers or objects of abuse than as a member of the family. In many societies, social discrimination and stigma make it hard for young persons with disabilities to marry, particularly girls.
 
Considered in some societies as less eligible marriage partners, women with disabilities are more likely to live in a series of unstable relationships, and thus have fewer legal, social and economic options should these relationships not work out.
 
Furthermore, women with disabilities are not recognised as being ‘women’ enough to bear children, marry or keep the domestic fires burning. They are seldom afforded an opportunity to be educated, as it is believed that one day they will find a man who will take care of them, even though they are not marriage material. As women, they are often not in control of their own sexuality and reproductive rights. In many situations, health professionals and to an extent their family members decide if they may have children or not. According to research, women with disabilities are three times more likely to be victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
 
Certain sex-related cultural beliefs and behaviour practices place women with disabilities at higher risk of HIV infection. 'Virginity Cleansing', a practice where an HIV infected person has sex with a virgin in the belief that they would be cured of the infection has led to the rape of many persons with disabilities especially mentally challenged women and babies. They become victims of this practice as it is believed they are virgins and in most instances cannot protect themselves from such attacks.
 
While you are contemplating the above, you may want to refurbish your blatant disregard for the disability sector, which is obviously borne out of ignorance and utter disrespect for it.  We are not eager to be reminded of our vulnerability, and certainly not available to be afforded the unwelcome suit of satirical ridicule.
 
Despite obtaining challenges, we do find space to laugh at ourselves through measured reflections of our solitude circumstances. However, we have no room to be romanced by insults hurled our way without exculpation in the name of satire: the proverbial tale of two poles does not meet with our conscious and considered approval.
An opportunity is thus presented to you to reflect. Seriously reflect on: Why Should Satire Romance the Disability Sector.
 
- Sipho Edwin Rihlamvu (Mobile: 079 045 1630, Email: simphiwecomms@hotmail.com) is Managing Director at Simphiwe Communications.

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March and in South Africa we also celebrate Women’s Day on 9 August every year. South Africa comes in at eighth place on a world classification table of women in national parliament. These are all developments that deserve to be applauded as the nation is taking strides towards the ultimate goal of achieving women’s rights. However, in the same instance it is never enough until we reach the peak of equality in all spheres, when women’s dignity and rights can be fairly observed in our nation.

Currently 93.1 percent women in comparison to 95.5 percent of men are literate in the country. Where exactly are we missing out on literacy equality among sexes? Being educated equates empowerment of an individual and increases the chances of one not living in poverty. Poverty often leads to one becoming vulnerable to being abused by the party with an upper hand. This often results in an increase in domestic violence against a partner with less financial prowess in a relationship, whom in most cases given the light of the statistics are women.

Another scary fact is that 45 000 women in South Africa become rape victims every month. Of the 45 000 how many other cases are not reported and of the ones reported how many receive justice? The scars of abuse continue to cause irreversible psychological problems on the victims, unless one receives adequate help, which most of them would not know where to get help from. There still needs more work to be done to address the fights that were fought from the days of Charlotte Maxeke, Helen Joseph and many other unnamed resilient female fighters for South African women’s rights.

As Youth For Survival (YFS) we believe that the more noise we make should also be backed with solutions, which is a step we are taking in joining the world to make our mark on the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, #PledgeForParity. As an organisation one of our pillars are to protect women who are victims of abuse. The Tshwane One Stop Safe House for Women and Children is one of our premises where we provide women victims of abuse with services ranging from counselling, legal services and also provide them with a transitional home while they recover. To also ensure women are educated and empowered at an early age we also run an Anti-Teenage Pregnancy Awareness Campaign in Schools and Clinics around Tshwane. All made possible by the support we receive from our Donors and Sponsors. It is not your fight alone, or the fight for civil society alone, but everyone’s fight…

#PledgeForParity

By Youth for Survival

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