Chair of SERI’s Board and former Justice of the Constitutional Court, Zak Yacoob, recently spoke about the rights of people with disabilities in an interview for an upcoming short documentary on sanitation for women and children with disabilities in informal settlements. SERI is producing the documentary together with Two Spinning Wheels Film Production and Pegasys Institute.
The Constitution guarantees the right to water and sanitation for everyone. These rights cannot only be enjoyed by the wealthy, able-bodied and people living in formal settlements to the exclusion of low-income households, people living with disabilities and those in informal settlements. The Constitution states, “[e]veryone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms."
Unfortunately, people with disabilities continue to face numerous challenges to accessing sanitation in informal settlements, including relying on shared toilets and chemical latrines, crawling to inaccessible sanitation facilities, inaccessible hand-washing facilities at toilets, the use of alternatives such as the bucket system to avoid travelling to distant sanitation facilities during unsafe hours, and physical violence while trying to access facilities outside the home.
Government departments and state bodies have a responsibility to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access the same fundamental rights and responsibilities as any other person.
Watch Slovo Park’s Lydia Lenyatsa speak about the sanitation challenges faced by women with disabilities living in informal settlements here.