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Take concrete steps to end discrimination against people affected by leprosy. Take immediate #action on Report 256 of the Law Commission of India

This petition had 2,130 supporters


LEPROSY, the oldest known disease affecting mankind, is growing to enormous proportions in India. World Health Organisation (WHO) reports say that India accounts for 58% of the total leprosy cases in the world. As per the report of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) of the Government of India, 1, 25,785 NEW cases of leprosy were detected in 2014-15. This means, every four minutes, one person in India is newly diagnosed with leprosy, and this underscores the fact that every four minutes, one family faces the potential threat of social exclusion due to the acute stigma attached to leprosy. 

People affected by leprosy are often discriminated against and  their basic human rights are violated due to the stigma attached to leprosy. There are regular reports of people affected by leprosy being thrown off public transport and from the land on which they live. They are often sacked from their jobs and their children are prevented from going to school. For many of them, begging is the only source of survival. 

Additionally, there are laws in India that discriminate against people affected by leprosy. These laws allow leprosy as a ground for divorce, discriminate against people affected by leprosy who resort to begging for livelihood, bar them from contesting elections, provide for charging higher life insurance premium from them, stop them from travelling in trains, obtaining driving licences, etc.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Since 1982, leprosy is a curable disease. Yet, a combination of lack of knowledge, unfounded religious myths and stigma result in people hiding the early symptoms of leprosy to avoid being outcast from their family and community. The disease then progresses unchecked causing terrible disabilities and blindness as well as heart-breaking rejection. There are around two million people living with irreversible leprosy-caused disabilities in India as a result of late treatment.

Recently, the Law Commission of India submitted its report No: 256 to the Government of India. The report also contains a draft Bill titled ‘Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy’ (EDPAL) Bill, 2015, for repealing or suitably amending all laws discriminatory towards people affected by leprosy. 

The parliament needs to pass the EDPAL bill so that it becomes a law and also enact a legislation that promotes social inclusion of people affected by leprosy through affirmative action.  

We need your support in asking Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, to get these actioned during the next session of the Parliament. Please show your solidarity with people affected by leprosy who struggle to be heard, by signing this petition.

To know more about leprosy; social and legal discrimination faced by people affected by leprosy; the Law Commission of India’s report, ‘Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy’ (Report No.256 dated April 7, 2015); and ‘United4Change’, the collective of organisations working with people affected by leprosy, click on the link: http://united4change.in/

 



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