Participants air concerns of people affected by leprosy
The acting head of India's National Human Rights Commission told a meeting of leprosy activists in New Delhi on March 5 that the NHRC would take up with the government the matter of laws which violate the human rights of people affected by leprosy.
Justice Dr. Shivraj Patil said that the human rights of life, liberty, equality and dignity have been enshrined in India's constitution, and that no one can deny or violate them.
Organized by the International Leprosy Union (ILU), the meeting at the NHRC was arranged to enable members of the commission to hear directly from people affected by leprosy and their supporters. Among the requests participants put to the NHRC were for help in ensuring that the basic human rights of the leprosy-affected are respected, support in getting the Law Commission to review discriminatory laws, and efforts to ensure that the legal system is free from discrimination.
One of those taking part, Kamalesh Divyadarshi, pointed out that although leprosy is today a curable disease, there is still mention of it being "incurable" in the law, and he suggested that elected members and representatives should be educated about the disease.
Justice Patil requested that the ILU present a proposal for a workshop on human rights and leprosy to create awareness about the disease, and the ILU is now following this up.
NATIONAL FORUM WORKSHOP
A capacity-building workshop for state leaders of people affected by leprosy in India was held in Chennai in March. Organized jointly by the National Forum of leprosy-affected persons and IDEA India, the meeting brought together leaders from 10 states in the south, east and west of the country.
The workshop focused on networking, organizing and capacity building so as to enable people affected by leprosy to become agents of change in improving their lives. Some 40 people participated, most of them residents of colonies.
DAY OF DIGNITY AND RESPECT
HANDA Rehabilitation and Welfare Association marked the 9th International Day of Dignity and Respect on March 11 with commemorative events in Guandong, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces of China. The day, which promotes dignity and respect for people affected by leprosy, included performances, tea parties, and visits to leprosy villages, and was well covered in local media.