rights

rights

  • Collaboration is Crucial to Address GBV and Disability

    In April 2012, a cellphone video of a teenager with an intellectual disability being gang raped by men and boys from her community in Soweto went viral. Authorities had no choice but to attend to the 17-year-old’s ordeal, so too, South Africans had to acknowledge the violence that so many women and girls with disabilities face on a daily basis.

    This was not the first time men had abused the young girl. She had also experienced violence in 2009 and 2010, but authorities failed to address these instances and make arrests. One wonders whether police would have seen to her case, had her ordeal not been filmed and shared so publicly. Over a year later, the accused still await trial, while charges have been dropped against one of the eight alleged perpetrators.

    Although gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa has received much more attention in recent years, it is clear that our society, the media and authorities often ignore and neglect the violence experienced by women and girls with disabilities. When society does ‘acknowledge’ issues relating to disability, they are disturbingly mocked, trivialised and stereotyped.

    Society continues to stigmatise individuals with disabilities as infantile and burdensome dependents. But, what society fails to understand is that the real ‘disability’ does not lie with an individual’s impairment, but rather the attitudes and physical barriers within society. These barriers continue to exclude and discriminate against so many people, hindering their access to basic human rights.

    It has become more widely known that women with disabilities are the most vulnerable to abuse and sexual violence, facing double the risk of being survivors of GBV compared to their non-disabled counterparts. Furthermore, high levels of economic disparity and under-reporting in this country and Southern Africa greatly exacerbate women’s vulnerability.

    Women and children with disabilities are subject to different forms of abuse in their homes, care facilities and schools - if they are even lucky enough to access education. Perpetrators are often family members, spouses or caregivers, and in most cases known to the survivors. Owing to a lack of access to social, medical and legal support, most cases of violence are never reported and inadequately addressed.

    We need to empower, educate and support women and children, especially those most vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse. But, we also need to acknowledge that the ‘single-issue’ approach to human rights advocacy is ineffective.

    A successful and sustainable approach requires an understanding of how other struggles intersect. For instance, high instances of GBV among women with disabilities are directly related to the increasing rates of HIV infection among these women. We need to connect issues of gender, disability economic equality and access to education to address these problems.

    The internationally recognised phrase ‘Nothing about us, without us’, is often thrown around in disability rights circles to remind ablest structures in society to be inclusive of all citizens’ needs. However, this phrase means nothing when so many people with disabilities in leadership positions do not actively and consistently dismantle sexism and implement strategies that will tangibly address rape and abuse on the ground.

    We need to stop seeing rape crisis centres, children victim units, women’s rights organisations and legal advocacy groups as just charity organisations, but instead as the people at the frontlines trying to mitigate the GBV pandemic. They work hard to support survivors, educate law enforcement and monitor legal processes to ensure survivors see justice.

    However, this immense task cannot be undertaken in isolation without non-governmental organisations stepping outside of their sectors to collaborate with each other, and other medical, legal and governmental departments to ensure an inclusive, effective and sustainable solution.

    The media also plays a crucial role in reporting on and educating society about the increased vulnerability that women and girls with disabilities face. More importantly, they are instrumental in dismantling the discriminatory language and representations that perpetuate stigmas and stereotypes around disability and gender.

    All education and awareness campaigns must not only be responsible and inclusive, but the voices and experiences of people with disabilities must inform and determine these strategies.

    The common trend of heavily advocating for employment for people with disabilities, without placing equal emphasis on children with disabilities’ access to quality education, is counterintuitive and unsustainable. To realise rights for all, there needs to be a balance. Society must place equal weight on access to education, healthcare, occupational services and protection from violence and abuse.

    It is crucial that efforts to address GBV are preventative and not merely reactionary. Our approach to incidents of violence against women and children with disabilities must be both a collaborative and holistic one.

    - Gaby Sanchez is an inclusive education advocate, independent editorial strategist, and consultant specialising in matters of disability and gender rights. This article is part of the Gender Links News Service, special series on 16 Days of Activism, providing fresh views on everyday news.
    Author(s): 
    Gaby Sanchez
  • SA Not the Country Mandela Dreamed Of

    The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that almost two decades later South Africa is not the country that former president Nelson Mandela said it would become.

    In a press statement, HRW executive director, Kenneth Roth, points out that, “Inequality and poverty remain rife, the education and health sectors are inadequate, and South Africa remains divided by racial separation and deep economic inequality.”

    Roth states that Mandela led South Africa out of darkness and brutality, adding that the country’s next generation of leaders would do well to live up to his high standards and fervent commitment to human rights.

    To read the article titled, “SA not as Madiba said it would be: Human Rights Watch,” click here.

    Source: 
    Times Live
  • Time for Action to End GBV

    I recently attended a gender-based violence (GBV) meeting convened by the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA) in Zambia, where I presented Gender Links’ (GL) research findings on violence against women. I listened to comments from the floor with growing anxiety. One male participant kept alluding to the violence that men experience at the hands of their female partners. But, let us face it: this is about proportion and need. The time for political correctness and endless discussions about how to address GBV is over.
     
    GL conducted Violence Against Women (VAW) baseline studies in six Southern African countries. In four provinces of Zambia, 89 percent of women from the sample, 86 percent in Lesotho, 68 percent in Zimbabwe, 67 percent in Botswana, 50 percent in four provinces of South Africa and 24 percent in Mauritius said they had experienced violence at least once in their lifetime.
     
    The most prevalent form of violence is emotional violence, but it barely features in police statistics. Yet on a daily basis, this violence undermines women’s agency and self-worth; costing our countries billions of dollars that could otherwise go into economic development.
     
    There are strong legislative frameworks for GBV in most countries across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Domestic violence and sexual assault legislation exists in 12 countries. But, progress in passing legislation on human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment has slowed substantially in the last two years.
     
    There is still widespread resistance to recognising sexual harassment as a crime. Only eight SADC countries have sexual harassment legislation, with governments lagging in implementing the provisions of these laws.
     
    While 12 countries have accessible, affordable and specialised services, including legal aid for survivors of GBV, the reality is that these service providers remain under-resourced with limited capacity to deliver on their mandates.
     
    One of the biggest concerns in the region is the lack of places of safety and secondary housing for GBV survivors. Governments rely on civil society organisations to provide this service and that is not a sustainable solution.
     
    Provision of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after sexual assault has improved over the last several years - from only one country, South Africa, providing PEP from 2009-2012 to a total of six countries in 2013. The need to provide PEP must form a large part of lobbying and advocacy efforts in the other nine SADC countries.
     
    Across the region, reliable and comprehensive quantitative data on GBV is difficult to obtain. Police statistics are highly contested because of under-reporting of GBV and inadequate data collection tools.
     
    The six SADC countries that have completed VAW baseline studies, have adopted a composite index to measure GBV. The findings of these baseline studies should guide GBV prevention strategies and budgeting processes. The GBV index will also assist in ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the efficiency of these strategies.
     
    One of the major findings of the VAW baseline studies is that childhood experience of abuse is a key driver of VAW. A higher proportion of men who experienced neglect, physical and sexual abuse during their childhood, had gone on to perpetrate violence as adults.
     
    Prevention of child abuse is a critical element in VAW prevention strategies. Schools, early childhood development centres and families must be directly involved in designing and implementing these strategies.
     
    The GL Gender Progress Score (GPS) measures gender attitudes. The GPS representing the views of over 40 000 women and men from across the SADC region shows that transactional elements of marriage practices such as ‘bride prices’ or Lobola create a belief of ownership and sexual entitlement after marriage. This fuels VAW because such attitudes help legitimise men’s use of violence as a means of controlling their wives.
     
    While many respondents agreed in principle that men and women should be treated equally, both women and men still believe that women should obey the men in their families.
     
    SADC governments must allocate substantial budgets to addressing VAW, move prevention to the heart of the agenda and work collaboratively with local government to change gender attitudes through community engagement. Challenging negative gender stereotypes must be central to GBV prevention campaigns.
     
    During this 16 Days of Activism, let’s start walking the talk to end this pandemic. As GL’s chief executive officer, Colleen Lowe Morna says, “Women’s rights are human rights, we must tackle the root causes of gender violence - patriarchal norms and harmful traditional practices that result in gross human rights violations being perpetrated with impunity.” It is time for action now.

    - Kubi Rama is the deputy chief executive officer at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links News Service, special series on 16 Days of Activism, providing fresh views on everyday news.

     

    Author(s): 
    Kubi Rama
  • HelpAge International: Country Director

    HelpAge International
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, November 25, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. HelpAge International's work is in over 75 countries is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations - the only one of its kind in the world.
     
    HelpAge International seeks to appoint a Country Director, based in Maputo, Mozambique.

    The Country Director will report to the Regional Director Southern Africa.

    This is a two-year contract position.

    Starting date: As soon as possible

    The Country Director will develop and grow the Mozambique Age Network as it is key to the HelpAge programme in Mozambique. S/he will be responsible to establish a national organisation to take forward HelpAge International programming within the next three years. The Country Director will represent HelpAge in Mozambique as a key regional actor and seeking strategic partnerships and opportunities to respond to ageing issues in the country and the region. The post-holder will have overall management responsibility for the HelpAge programme in Mozambique.

    Requirements:
    • Minimum of five years experience of development work in Africa,
    • Knowledge and understanding of the social challenges in the region today, with a particular emphasis on, Networking, Social Protection, HIV/AIDS, and emergencies;
    • Experience of programme development in networks / consortiums, implementation and staff supervision and management;
    • Experience of advocacy and policy development on a national level;
    • Track record of  proposal development securing funding from and reporting to international and local donors;
    • Fluent spoken and written Portuguese and English;
    • Ability to represent HelpAge International, influence, communicate with a wide range of people and organisations (including government) at all levels with tact and diplomacy and ability to write clear analytical reports.                               
    Salary: £35 000

    To apply, submit a CV and motivational letter to Zandile.sithole@helpagesouthafrica.org. 

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
     
    HelpAge International is an equal opportunities employer.

    For more about HelpAge International, refer to www.helpage.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • The State Does Not Consult Rural People About Laws That Affect Them

    The centenary year of the 1913 Natives Land Act is drawing to a close and we are looking ahead to marking two decades of democratic governance in 2014. Many questions arise as to the extent to which the democratisation that seemed imminent in 1994 has been achieved, especially in rural areas in the former homelands.
    Rural people are discontented about how the state interacts with them on issues that affect their lives. This emerged at a workshop held with 50 participants from different communities in KwaZulu-Natal to discuss rural people’s experiences and concerns about security of land tenure and traditional leadership in the face of new laws and policies.

    The following issues were under the spotlight: who holds land in their home areas, how the land is allocated, whether men and women can access and use land equally, and how communal property associations function. Participants also contemplated the workings of traditional councils where they live, what roles traditional leaders play and women’s participation in these councils.

    The most consistently reiterated complaint was that rural communities are not adequately consulted during the drafting of new laws that affect their security of land tenure or how they are governed. The drafting processes of both the Traditional Courts Bill and the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill were criticised for excluding those people most affected by the Bills. Participants at the workshop were largely in agreement that they mainly rely on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to alert them to legislation that could have serious implications for them.

    In discussion sessions about the Restitution Bill, many participants were unhappy that the Bill proposes re-opening the land restitution claims process even though more than 20 000 existing claims are yet to be settled. The participants proposed that settled and existing claims be protected against further claims on the same land. Most of the participants who suggested alternatives will make submissions when the Bill gets into the parliamentary process.

    Major concerns were also raised about traditional councils. Their legal status is in doubt since many of them have not met the requirements of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (2003). The law stipulates that in order to be converted from apartheid-era tribal authorities to traditional councils, 40 percent of the members of each council have to be elected by the communities they serve and a third have to be women.

    No valid elections have taken place in most of the places where participants came from. In cases where women have been made members of traditional councils, they generally suffer the most terrible marginalisation and even violence. One woman spoke of the verbal and physical assaults to which she has been subjected by one of the ‘izinduna’ (headmen) and his thugs for standing up for women when she was on the traditional council. She has even lost a finger and has subsequently been removed from the council. The chief, who is in cahoots with the ‘induna’, has stood by and watched all of this happen. She reported numerous assaults to the police to no avail.

    Most members of traditional councils - male and female - who were at the workshop were scathing about the conduct of traditional councils generally. They talked about the councils’ lack of accountability to community members, the random monies levied by traditional councils and/or leaders, and the involvement of some traditional leaders in corrupt activities when it comes to development, and how infrequently some traditional councils meet.

    Speakers repeatedly pointed out that they were not opposed to traditional leadership. They believe that traditional leaders have an important role to play in conflict management, keeping peace and maintaining the general well-being of their communities. What people oppose, instead, are the practices of some traditional councils. They question the legitimacy of some of the leaders whose positions derive from the appointment of compliant chiefs by colonial and apartheid authorities.

    In the end, workshop participants were clear that they want monies levied by traditional leaders and councils to be better regulated by the state and, in some cases, to be formally abolished. Where such levies are regulated, they want traditional leaders to account to community members on what they do with the money they collect.

    They generally want accountability from traditional leaders to their communities, rather than only upwards to the government. Regarding the Restitution Bill, participants are readying themselves to engage with Parliament when the Bill is tabled.

    Also read: New Restitution Bill could open floodgates for chiefs’ land claims.

    - Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi is a senior researcher in the Rural Women's Action Research programme at the Centre for Law and Society, University of Cape Town. This article first appeared on Custom Contested
  • Botswana Plans to Deport Foreigners

    Botswana government officials have discussed a strategy to detain homosexuals if they are locals - or deport them if they are foreigners - for ‘disorderly and indecent’ behaviour.
     
    Uyapo Ndadi, the director of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV / AIDS (BONELA), an NGO which aims to protect the rights of people with AIDS, "The government continues to introduce unlawful and unconstitutional laws without consulting the people."
     
    There are growing fears that the powers of arrest given to the police and the department of immigration could lead to a "witch-hunt", it reports.
     
    According to Dakar-based pan-African APA News agency, even foreigners with valid papers could be detained for 48 hours before it's decided whether they are to be deported.
     
    To read the article titled, “Plan to deport 'gay foreigners',” click here.

    Source: 
    BBC News
  • People’s Pride Against A Brutal Backlash

    The recent Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Queer (LGBTIAQ) marches held across Gauteng, South Africa, culminating in Pride Month came at a contentious and opportune time, considering the rash of homophobic statements by political leaders across the world.

    These ‘official’ endorsements of prejudice, inequality and human rights abuses deny millions of people their rights. In September, Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh told the United Nations General Assembly that homosexuality is deadlier than all natural disasters put together.

    He claims homosexuality is "anti-God, anti-human, and anti-civilisation." In March 2013 at the opening of Parliament he said, "Homosexuals are not welcome in the Gambia. If we catch you, you will regret why you are born." In 2008, he ordered gays and lesbians to leave the country or have their heads cut off.

    In his inauguration speech in August 2013, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe told the country that homosexuality ‘destroys nations’ and is ‘a filthy disease.’ During the recent elections in Swaziland, some chiefs advised the electorate not to vote for women in mourning; women wearing pants and ‘gays.’

    Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin and the Orthodox Church, Russia recently passed the ‘anti-homosexual propaganda law’, formally known as the ‘anti-non-traditional-sexual-relations law.’ This criminalises demonstrations or LGBTI activism, and fuels hate crimes against LGBTI people in the country. Ironically his role in averting a United States military strike against Syria makes Putin worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

    Putin has openly blamed homosexuality for Russia's declining birth-rate. This is almost as ridiculous as a statement made by Errol Naidoo, a South African Christian pastor, implying feminism and a ‘homosexual agenda’ led to the Marikana Massacre in 2012.

    Because birds of a feather hate together, Jon Qwelane will feel most at home as South Africa's ambassador to Uganda. In 2008 after a number of lesbians were murdered, he published an article called, "Call me names, but gay is NOT okay." The Equality Court found Qwelane guilty of hate speech, but he recently challenged South Africa's Equality Act, saying it hinders free speech. He also refused to apologise and called for LGBTIAQ rights to be revoked from the Constitution.

    In another formal approval of homophobia, the Commonwealth elected Rebecca Kadaga, Ugandan parliamentarian and public supporter of Uganda's ‘kill the gays’ bill, as chair of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. The list goes on.

    These ‘leaders' have blood on their hands. They are complicit in the rape and brutal murder of Duduzile Zozo, Eudy Simelane and countless more women who have suffered cruel injustices as a result of their sexual orientation. They shoulder the blame for the torture and killing of Cameroonian journalist and human rights activist Eric Ohena Lemembe, Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato, and so many more people.

    They share guilt with the mob of men that threatened and attacked the dance members of VINTAGE at Bree street taxi rank in Johannesburg, after performing at Soweto Pride.

    Our prejudiced leaders share responsibility for the murders of all the LGBTIAQ people whose names were printed on the innumerable white placards held by demonstrators on the road to Constitutional Hill, during Johannesburg Peoples' Pride.

    At the launch of the United Nation's first global campaign to promote gay rights in July 2013, Desmond Tutu condemned hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTIAQ noting: "I would not worship a God who is homophobic." During the same month, even Pope Francis spoke out against homophobia and discrimination.

    We will never achieve gender equality until LGBTIAQ people are included in this aspiration. Nor will this be a meaningful inclusion unless it moves beyond one defined by victimhood. Until people are no longer reduced to a sex, a gender, a race, religion or a class, but accepted as a complex whole that is first and foremost human, equality and justice cannot be achieved. This is the lesson that the men who lead the world from Putin in Russia to Jammeh in Gambia need to learn.

    - Katherine Robinson is the Editor and Communications Manager at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, bringing you fresh views on everyday news. 
    Author(s): 
    Katherine Robinson
  • Western Cape APD: Community Development Worker

    Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, November 15, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is a nonprofit organisation, affiliated to the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa. The Western Cape APD serves as a pro-active forum for the advancement of persons with physical disabilities so as to enable them to attain their maximum level of independence and integration into the community, and is active in the prevention of physical disablement.

    Western Cape APD seeks to appoint a Community Development Worker, based at the George APD, Western Cape.

    Requirements: 
    • Experience in community development, groupwork and community work projects.
    • Valid driver’s license (not learners’ license)
    • Fluent in English and Afrikaans (isiXhosa is an advantage)
    Recommendations:
    • Training and registration with the SACSSP as Social Auxilliary Worker.
    • Knowledge and experience in working with persons with disabilities.
    Starting date : 1 December 2013 or as soon as possible.
      
    To apply, submit a CV, proof of qualifications, copies of ID document, driver’s licence, SACSSP registration and proof of payment of annual registration fees  to the Chief Executive Officer at leana@wcapd.org.za or fax to: 044 878 1937.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Should you not receive a feedback within 14 days after the closing date, consider your application unsuccessful.

    For more about the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities, refer to www.wcapd.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • Western Cape APD: Social Worker - George

    Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, November 15, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is a nonprofit organisation, affiliated to the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa. The Western Cape APD serves as a pro-active forum for the advancement of persons with physical disabilities so as to enable them to attain their maximum level of independence and integration into the community, and is active in the prevention of physical disablement.

    Western Cape APD seeks to appoint a Social Worker, based at the George APD, Western Cape.

    Requirements:
    • Registration with SACSSP;
    • Valid driver’s licence;
    • Fluent in English and Afrikaans (isiXhosa is an advantage);
    • Experience in the writing of service plans, LOTTO applications and other funding proposals.
    Recommendations:
    • Training and/or sufficient experience in the daily running of an NPO;
    • Knowledge and experience in working with persons with disabilities.
    Starting date: 1 December 2013 or as soon as possible.
     
    To apply, submit a CV, proof of qualifications, copies of ID document, driver’s licence, SACSSP registration and proof of payment of annual registration fees  to the Chief Executive Officer at leana@wcapd.org.za or fax to: 044 878 1937.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Should you not receive a feedback within 14 days after the closing date, consider your application unsuccessful.

    For more about the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities, refer to www.wcapd.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • NGO Calls for Botswana Tourism Boycott

    An International tribal rights organisation, Survival International, says that the San community in Botswana is continually persecuted by that country’s government.
     
    The organisation, which calls for the boycott of Botswana tourism, is in support of the San community, which is allegedly being harassed and continually persecuted by the government in an effort to force them out of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
     
    Survival International Bushmen Campaigner, Rachel Stenhman, states that with this campaign, they hope to put pressure on the Botswana government to finally respect the rights of this community. 
     
    To read the article titled, “Tribal rights group calls for Botswana tourism boycott,” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
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