The preamble of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has the following to say about children with disabilities:

Recognizing that children with disabilities should have full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children, and recalling obligations to that end undertaken by States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child…”

ALL the rights stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child are equally applicable to children with disabilities.

The Preamble begins by saying all the States that are party to the Convention (those who have signed it) are recognising this statement about the rights of children with disabilities. South Africa is a signatory to the Convention and, therefore, obliged to see to it that children with disabilities “should have full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children…”

When considering the government’s numerous and blatant rights denial of the most vulnerable children, it is in contravention of the obligations to which it committed itself. Contravening its pledge is disgraceful and an indictment against our country and its people.

We should all hang our heads in shame!

These rights denials are not even veiled, they are open and blatant, like the exclusion of children with disabilities from an equal education and denying them assistive devices which are essential to exercise fundamental human rights. There are many more infringements on the rights of children with disabilities for which the government is to be blamed. Even more incomprehensible is the fact that those duty bearers in the state responsible for ensuring children with disabilities access to their rights, don’t seem to be concerned about their discrimination against our children. They are dragging their feet, reluctant to allocate sufficient resources and have a lax attitude while children are suffering in their millions.

And we the people are allowing it. The reason why the government is allowed to get away with such atrocious ommissions is that we the people are allowing it to be so irresponsible, negligent and plain abusive towards the country’s children with disabilities.

We are not holding the government to account and are therefore complicit in what I regard as a crime against humanity.

What are we going to do? The responsibility rests with you and me to say enough is enough and collectively demand from the government to respect children with disabilities, to honour their dignity and to stop this crass disregard for and rejection of their fundamental human rights.

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If we rise in unison, if we make a stand in our masses against the government’s violations of the inalienable rights of our children, we will shake it into action.

We need to raise our voices, not to shout but to ensure the plight of those without a voice, is heard.

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