Stigmatisation in some groups is accelerated by lack of water and sanitation: UN Rapporteur

Friday, September 14, 2012
Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Special Rapporteur,
while speaking on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Geneva: The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque says stigmatisation in some groups and communities such as the Roma and Dalit, is accelerated by lack of water and sanitation.

In an interview in Geneva where she briefed the Human Rights Council this week, the Special Rapporteur explained her report linking stigma to shortcomings in human rights to water and sanitation.

Albuquerque's report to the Council said stigma reflected unequal power relations, which resulted in the exclusion of certain groups and individuals from making decisions and accessing resources and services, such as water and sanitation.

She said "stigmatisation has such an effect on certain groups on certain populations that these people do not manage to get access to water and to sanitation because they are marginalised, they are excluded.  And this marginalisation and exclusion is something deliberate that comes from other members of society, sometimes it even comes from the authorities."

Using as an example the Roma communities, she described how they live in informal settlements, where they are not connected to the water network.

She said "they are put aside they do not get access", and these "situations of exclusion of people is seen as natural as acceptable even as necessary, as legal, even very often by authorities and this makes the problem much deeper and much more entrenched in societies and more difficult to combat."

She recounted a meeting with a Roma family whose ordeal with stigmatisation particularly affected their school-age children.

"I was talking with Roma, a father crying telling me that 'my daughter came home crying from school saying, I do not want to go to school again because the other kids tease me and say, that I stink', and he said, 'I know that she stinks but the problem is that we do not have water at home, we have a river nearby and in winter we cannot go there because it is too cold'". Albuquerque exclaimed that it was a "self-fulfilling prophecy" that one would "stink" without access to sanitation, water and hygiene.

Albuquerque urged governments to address this issue, saying she wants to break the taboo related to water and sanitation. -UNifeed
Next Post »