Awareness and Advocacy
Opening minds fighting stigma
Though easily treatable, leprosy still strikes fear in a country like India. Lack of knowledge about the disease has led to the perpetration of misinformation and misconceptions resulting in a deep rooted and widespread stigma against the disease and those affected. This is true not only among the uneducated but also among the educated. The negative perception of the disease is manifested in discrimination against and exclusion of not only the leprosy-affected but also their families and a denial of their basic human rights. Special and concerted efforts need to be made to eradicate social stigma. Societal mind-set has to be changed through awareness generation and advocacy.
To tackle this problem S-ILF has developed a multi-faceted approach that reaches out to people in all walks of life such as educational institutions, media, politicians and parliamentarians, lawyers and social activists, government institutions and as well as corporate houses.
S-ILF engages in awareness building to sensitize different sections of society to the needs of the leprosy-affected people and their families so that they are treated without discrimination and to demonstrate through successes of those who have struggled against all odds, that change is not only desirable but feasible too. It also engages in advocacy to ensure a legal and institutional framework that in no way discriminates against the rights of the leprosy-affected as equal citizens of the country, to ensure that any violation of the rights of the leprosy-affected is treated as a human rights issue, to set in place mechanisms of redress of grievances and punitive action.
- Forum Of Parliamentarians To Free India Of LeprosyThe formation of a Forum of Parliamentarians to Free India of Leprosy was announced during the International Symposium on 3rd-4th October, 2012 organized by S-ILF. Since then S-ILF has been working closely with this forum. Headed by MP and ex-Railway Minister, Mr. Dinesh Trivedi and ex-MP, Mr. Madhu Gaud Yaskhi, the forum cuts across party lines and aims to free India of leprosy. The members offer their good offices and influence in the legislature to raise awareness about leprosy and bring about changes that would ensure the basic human rights of the leprosy-affected. They also facilitate link up of leprosy-affected people in their constituencies with the existing national and state government welfare schemes.The Forum has the blessing of Hon’ble ex-Speaker of Lok Sabha, Mrs. Meira Kumar and the Hon’ble Vice President of India, Mr. Hamid Ansari. And has till date, 53 members from different states and different parties. In 2014-15, under the leadership of Mr. Trivedi and Mr. Yaskhi, a core committee was formed to plan on more effective and outcome-based engagement of the MPs in this initiative. Each and every one of the members of the newly elected parliament was approached and informed of the activities of the Forum which met twice during the winter session of the parliament. The MPs showed keen interest to visit the colonies and interact with the people there.
- Health ministry- organised anti leprosy day jointly