OpEd, Politics

Amplifying disability voices: Urgent need for inclusive policies and implementation in South Sudan

South Sudanese government on ratifying the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [UNCRPD] and the Maputo protocol on 24th February 2023, has the full responsibility to ensure that all people with disabilities enjoy equal access to education, employment, health services, and have their voices heard in any political decision-making process.

However, in South Sudan, persons with disabilities continue facing negative attitudes both in the private and public realm putting them at a very high risk of being excluded in all aspects of society. Policymakers and gender-based violence GBV programmers should put more effort into responding to violence against persons with disabilities. They are exposed to at least the same, and probably more forms of violence than persons without disabilities and they require at least the same level of protection and access to redress and in the country as all Citizens do.

The first step is for the South Sudanese government and non-governmental organizations to fund and collaborate with organizations of persons with disabilities OPDS in the generation of comparable and inclusive gender and disability-desegregated data. And people with impairment should be routinely identified from the wider communities. A systematic review of gender-based violence GBV policy documents could identify gaps that undermine the inclusion of persons with disabilities in GBV prevention efforts and responses.

GBV incidents that are reported are rarely followed up and brought to court. The State should sponsor the evaluation of the country’s legal system to ensure that persons with disabilities disclosure of violence is taken seriously, and cases where survivors with disabilities report are actively pursued and the perpetrators are brought to book to avoid reoccurrences of violence against them.

GBV and other protection services should be made more accessible to persons with disabilities and organizations of persons with disabilities and organizations that are actors in GBV should collaborate to empower persons with disabilities to report incidents and seek justice. Focus should be put on providing Sign language training to GBV service providers to cater for survivors with hearing impairment to enable them to engage effectively with the police and the judicial process while simultaneously empowering them through economic opportunities that will Foster their independence and mitigate incidences of violence perpetrated against them.

Considering that GBV programs and services are under resourced, underutilized and lack robust evidence-based intervention government and no governmental support is needed to allocate funding for disability-related research and to ensure that appropriate resources and training to facilitate inclusivity are integrated into existing programs and sources.

Therefore, the government and non-governmental organizations should develop and implement disability inclusion policies to remind them that disability is part of human diversity, and no one should be left behind in accessing services that are fundamental to all South Sudanese.

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