Namibians face various forms of judgement, ranging from direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other forms in their respective settings including their homes and at workplaces.
Today is Zero Discrimination Day, annually observed by the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations with the main aims of promoting equality before the law and in practice through all of the member states.
Under the theme ‘Remove Laws That Harm, Create Laws That Empower”, UNAIDS is stressing the importance of taking action against discriminatory laws.
“If we do not address this discrimination head-on, it will never be eradicated. Most people are not even aware they are discriminating against persons with disabilities, and that is why Zero Discrimination Day is so important,” said Tjiueza Tjombumbi, the head of research and development at the National Disability Council of Namibia.
Tjombumbi added that it is a great opportunity to continue raising awareness on discrimination against persons with disabilities to change people’s perceptions and attitudes.
“The more we talk about it, the more it will become the norm to make society more inclusive and accessible for all, including those with disabilities,” he said.
He stated that it is essential to break the cycle of prejudices that people have toward persons with disabilities.
“Just because they are visually impaired or deaf, does not mean that they cannot be full-time and productive members of an organisation or company for example. They do not want special treatment, they just want to be seen for what they are, which is members of society that want to participate equally and fully,” he said.
“Persons with disabilities are stigmatised, treated and talked to like children, this should never happen.”
Over the years, Namibian media have reported cases of discrimination against a person with albinism, the LBGQT+ community, the San speaking community and other members of the marginalised communities including Ovatue, Ovatjimba and some Ovazemba.
“Persons with disabilities are constantly discriminated against, often without others being aware of it. Buildings, public transport, cities and towns generally discriminate against people with disabilities,” he stated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that stigma is a major basis of discrimination and exclusion, as it affects people‘s self-esteem, disrupt relationships and limits their ability to mingle and obtain housing and jobs.
Discrimination also hampers the prevention of mental health disorders, the promotion of mental well-being and the provision of effective treatment and care which ultimately contributes to the abuse of human rights.