MEDIA STATEMENT: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: LOOKING BACK, MOVING FORWARD 21 March 2019
Equality is one of the substantive rights enshrined in our Constitution, which is praised for being one of the most progressive constitutions in the world in terms of socio-economic and human rights. It was a struggle for equality which ignited the Sharpeville protests 59 years ago, of which we remember, and honour, the 69 protestors who were killed in the Sharpeville massacre. The right to Equality provides that no person may be unfairly discriminated against based on sex, race, gender, sexual orientation etc. Today, 59 years after this incident, and over 20 years into our democracy, despite a progressive and comprehensive constitution which should protect us, this sense of equality is still not felt. Many people face grave violations of their rights, especially womxn, who face significant amounts of violence, abuse and discrimination on a daily basis. Additionally, while there has been progress in the legal system with regard to womxn’s rights, there are still major problems with womxn’s access to legal services. It is these dynamics which informed the very formation of the Women’s Legal Centre 20 years ago.