I am deviating from the exlusive focus on children with disabilities with this blog post because I think it is crucial information about all persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities.
Nine Examples of Major Disability Rights Violations in South Africa
- The unacceptably high rate of unemployment of persons with disabilities which points to discrimination against them, preventing them from participating in economic activities on an equal basis with non-disabled people. Both the government and the entire employment sector are guilty of excluding persons with disabilities from employment. The government is failing to reach their target of a 2% employment rate of persons with disabilities, and the private sector is dragging its feet to implement objectives for the employment of persons with disabilities. A 2% employment target is, in fact, deficient considering persons with disabilities make up at least 7.5% of the South African population. The government does not regulate the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector, and the business community is free to set its targets. The entire employment sector should be subjected to regulations compelling them to implement minimum employment targets of persons with disabilities.
- The low educational levels of persons with disabilities as a result of inequalities in the educational system. Both children and adults with disabilities do not have equal access to educational opportunities, and the government denies them their right to a quality and equitable education. Insufficient opportunities are available for adults with disabilities to improve their level of education. Discrimination against children with disabilities regarding access to education is rife and widespread. Children in special schools receive an inferior education, while the accessibility of mainstream schools for children with disabilities leaves much to be desired. Moreover, approximately 500 000 children with disabilities of school going age are out of school. The low levels of education amongst persons with disabilities, the lack of access to educational opportunities and the denial of the right to a quality and equal education impact severely on the general exercising of their human rights. Persons with disabilities’ prospects and living a life of dignity are nullified by these discriminatory practices. The denial of the fundamental right to an education is at the root of condemning thousands of persons with disabilities to a life of deprivations and poverty.
- Persons with disabilities are often denied their right to reasonable accommodation. They have the right to equitable measures to support their participation in society on an equal basis with non-disabled people. All sectors of society, including the workplace, public institutions, private entities have the responsibility to implement extraordinary measures to facilitate the equal participation and enjoyment of services, facilities, communication, information and execution of functions.
- The inaccessibility to persons with disabilities of their accommodation, buildings, services, information, programmes etc.
- The government’s non-provisioning of assistive devices to persons with disabilities. An assistive device is essential for living and accessing fundamental rights and freedoms. The country’s constitution guarantees the right to assistive devices as part of primary health care. Persons with disabilities, including children, are either not provided with assistive devices, or they have to wait for up to six years to be supplied with them. An assistive device like a wheelchair can be a matter of life and death, and there is ample evidence of people that have died because they were denied Having to go without a wheelchair can imply persons are confined to bed. Another example is the fact that deaf and severely hearing impaired people are denied hearing aids which means they are cut off from the world and denied their right to communication and access information. Various devices like crutches, white canes, walking frames, prosthesis and orthopaedic shoes are essential for mobility and the freedom of movement. By not supplying people with these devices, the government severely violates the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities.
- Society’s general exclusion and marginalisation of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are extensively excluded from mainstream society due to structural and attitudinal barriers present in the community. In this way, society imposes a disability on persons with impairments.
- Persons with disabilities are often severely stigmatised. The stigma is often related to superstitious cultural belief systems. In several communities, disability is viewed as a curse. In extreme cases, children with disabilities are kept out of public sight and locked away in back rooms because of the level of stigma attached to them with their own families sometimes being ashamed of them.
- The pervasive prevalence of disablism in society. Prejudices towards and stereotypes about disability and persons with disabilities are prevalent in society which results in disability discrimination. Disablism, or disability discrimination, is quite possibly the cause of all the rights violations persons with disabilities have to endure and at the core of myriad deprivations, they have to suffer.
- Persons with disabilities are often denied access to justice in cases where crimes have been committed against them. They are more vulnerable to neglect, abuse and exploitation. Forms of violence include physical abuse, sexual molestation and rape. In many instances, they are denied access to justice due to disablism within the judicial system and the perception they are not credible witnesses. Victims often require professional intermediaries in court to support them in their testimonies and authorities are often reluctant to make an effort and incur costs to provide suitable and appropriate professional intermediaries.