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Human Rights: WECF Contributing to the Public Consultation of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

The Special Rapporteur, Catarina de Albuquerque, introduced the new issue “stigmatisation” which is not yet part of the human rights framework, 1 February 2012 in Geneva

02.02.2012 |Anke Stock

The Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation held a public consultation on the issue of stigmatisation in the realisation of the rights to water and sanitation.

The Special Rapporteur, Catarina de Albuquerque, introduced the new issue “stigmatisation” which is not yet part of the human rights framework. She highlighted that stigmatisation goes beyond discrimination; it was a process of labelling an individual or a group, devaluating and thus degrading someone. She highlighted that a society that had put a stigma on a group of people would often lack the political will to address the issue. Thus the deeply enrooted stigma was hard to touch and to abandon. Her objective is now to speak about stigmatisation, the groups facing stigmatisation and the reasons for it and through the naming of the problem putting it on the political agenda in order to find solutions to tackle the issue.

She listed people and groups facing stigmatisation:
  • Women regarding menstrual hygiene;
  • Roma communities;
  • Dalits (“Untouchables");
  • Sanitation workers;
  • Sex workers;
  • Prisoners;
  • People living with HIV/aids;
  • People with disabilities;
  • Elderly persons;
  • People living in poverty;
  • Homeless people.
The following discussion brought up specific situations in different countries, mainly of South America, Africa and Asia. It showed that it was more useful to concentrate on situations rather than on groups in order not to miss out on a specific group. Furthermore, the groups of refugees and displaced persons were mentioned as well as indigenous people.

WECF highlighted the need to look closer at the issue of the Roma within the water and sanitation sector in the EECCA region. Furthermore, the indirect gender discrimination was also an issue which needed closer scrutinising. WECF also stressed the value of the UNECE Protocol on Water and Health for the EECCA region and its recent work on the equitable access to water and sanitation due to be launched at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille in March 2012.

The Special Rapporteur welcomes further written submission on the issue of stigmatisation until the end of February 2012 (srwatsan@ohchr.org). Her report will be published in autumn this year. Please contact Anke Stock (anke.stock@wecf.eu) for further information.

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