News | 3 Mar 2023
Imagine a young person who is living with HIV, she is scared to go to her nearest clinic to pick up life saving treatment because of the judgement she constantly receives from some of the healthcare workers through stares and lectures. Imagine a sex worker who can’t report being brutally raped because she will be threatened with arrest by police. Imagine a person who uses drugs, living on the street and trying to stay HIV free, but is constantly harassed by police or security guards and can’t access clean needles. Imagine a gay man’s daily fear of being verbally and physically abused in his community because of his sexual orientation.
These common experiences overwhelmingly cripple the already strained efforts to end the HIV, TB and GBV pandemics in our country. NACOSA’s Human Rights Programme, funded by the Global Fund, is directly challenging the widespread stigma and discrimination experienced by key and vulnerable populations that create barriers to people accessing the basic services they have a right to. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights provides rights for all people who live in South Africa. NACOSA believes in the realisation of these rights for all, including those often on the margins of society like sex workers, young women, people from the LGBTQIA+ community and people who use drugs.
The programme focuses on training community based organisations on human rights, human rights violations and linking them to legal support to raise community awareness and address the serious impact that stigma and discrimination has on specific populations. NACOSA is ensuring the sustainability of this programme by involving key stakeholders such as government departments and civil society organisations through trainings and quarterly meetings to follow up on human rights violation cases reported at district, provincial and national levels. Paralegals will join NACOSA and community organisations to further support the realisation of rights across our Adolescents and Young People, People Who Use Drugs and Community Systems Strengthening programmes.
The Human Rights programme will positively impact on the lives of the vulnerable people we work with, but it will also build the skills and awareness of the staff in community based organisations who dedicate themselves so tirelessly to improving the lives of marginalized populations.
By Fiona Mpungu, Human Rights Programme Specialist