The Disability Observer 2019 Issue 3
Disability in Zimbabwe in figures
By Isaacs Mwale
Disability affects many people in Zimbabwe than is actually documented. In a 2017 article entitled “Challenges faced by women with disabilities in accessing sexual and reproductive health in Zimbabwe.
The case of Chitungwiza Town” the author exposes how persons with disabilities are amongst the most marginalized, poorest and excluded groups in the country, as they are treated as second class Citizens. In 2018 it was estimated that about 900 000-1.4 million people in Zimbabwe have a sort of disability, which is about 7% of the population. The presence of disability in the country has been attributed to diseases, war, conflict, accidents, malnutrition, abnormal births and hereditary characteristics.
A large population of individuals with disabilities are children and young people. About 53% of the PWDs population in Zimbabwe became disabled before the age of 20 years.
Around 27% of PWDs attained their disability from birth while 9% disability exists between the age limits of 1–5 years of age. The disability population of males is estimated approximately about 56% while the disability population of women is around 44% as of 2013. About 600 000 children have disabilities in Zimbabwe according to the Department of International Development Zimbabwe as of 2013.
Around 52% of the disabled children in Zimbabwe have no access to education in spite of Zimbabwe having a record of 93% literacy rate among its school-going children, which is also the best in the African continent. On the other hand, it was evident that about 34% of disabled women didn’t attend school while 22% of disabled men didn’t attend school. Women face double discrimination of being denied education because of their gender and being denied education because they are disabled.
In Zimbabwe, children with disabilities live under especially difficult, challenging circumstances and are vulnerable as they live with negative attitudes, beliefs, and customs. According to statistics, around 83% of women have been unemployed who have disabilities while about 74% of disabled men population has been unemployed.
As can be observed from these figures there is a significant number of the population of PWDs in this country of which the majority of them are suffering because of being marginalized and overlooked during crucial decision-making processes.
It is a common perception within Zimbabwe that disabled people are passive, inactive, economically inactive and unproductive and therefore constitute a “burden” upon the society. It is this perception that needs to be changed in order to guarantee that the rights of this minority group of PWDs are safeguarded and protected by all the major stakeholders in the country. The mission to achieve these rights for PWDs is therefore a Human Rights matter and not a Humanitarian campaign.
THE CHILD JUSTICE BILL:
Part 1 (What the Bills seeks to address and achieve)
By Michelle Mutogo
The Child Justice Bill 2019 is meant to establish a distinct criminal justice system for children who are in conflict with the law because as it stands, there is no law that specifically governs the treatment of children in conflict with the law in Zimbabwe.
The Bill aims at protecting the rights of children entrenched in the Zimbabwean Constitution and in international instruments and it sets out principles relating to the best interests of children as held in the Children’s Act.The Bill also provides for the minimum age of criminal capacity for children is 7years old and it defines the powers and responsibilities of members of the Zimbabwean Republic Police and of probation officers in relation to children. It also provides for the detention of children and their release from detention, embeds the notion of rehabilitation and restorative justice as an important part of the child justice system. On top of that, it tries to incorporate the diversion of cases from formal court procedures as a central feature of the child justice process and to establish procedures for the screening of children.
There is needs to create special rules for a child justice court and to provide for legal representation for children. This can mean to extend the sentencing options available for children, to establish review procedures and to establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure the effective operation of this legislation.
(This article is meant to give a brief overview of the Bill and in the next issue, I will be analyzing the Bill in relation to Disability and if the Bill allows for reasonable accommodations to Children with Disabilities)
Disconnected from the world: the case of Deaf children
By Tinotenda Chikunya
Identity is an important aspect of a person’s life as it defines a person throughout their livelihood. A birth certificate is a fundamental human right which allows each individual the ability to enjoy all other rights.
It is the foundation for the protection and well being of children while also reducing the vulnerability of children.
According to World Vision 230Million children were reported by UNICEF to be unregistered. Birth registration provides several benefits including the right to a name and surname.It provides social benefits and judicial protection entitled to each child through the parents and the state.
For persons with disabilities acquiring birth registration seems to be a tall order as the number of Persons with Disabilities is still low. This is because some births of Persons with Disabilities in rural areas are home births and when the parents discover the child is disabled, they hide away the child and do not register the birth.
The child remains unknown officially and to the public.
Some children with Disabilities are abandoned at birth, some are abandoned with strangers while others are taken to rural areas and left with their grandmothers. Those that end up with the child have no idea when the child was born and where , resulting in the child’s age being estimated and the child ends up having an incorrect birth date. Sometimes the registrar general’s office has free registration campaigns in rural areas but some parents and guardians lack the support needed when caring for a child with a Disability and do not think a birth certificate is necessary for the child.
A child without a birth certificate faces difficulty in enrolling in school and on getting immunization. Children with Disabilities are affected by issues of abuse and in legal cases proof of age on sexual offenses, early marriage and child labour are hard to determine. Even on times of conflict Identity documents are the first to be required hence Persons with Disabilities are exposed to police brutality due to lack of identification.
Without a birth certificate one is invisible to the world and is vulnerable to social injustices . Parents and guardians need to ensure that they register their children as a way to build a solid foundation for the protection and wellbeing of their children.