Community rights & health project

Summary

Counseling session for women
Counseling session for women

“Make a commitment to serve the needs of the ‘least of these’ and give voice to the voiceless.”
– Dr. Artika Tyner

Outline of this page

The problem
Discrimination is still prevalent in India, specifically in the rural regions, thus stripping the people of their human rights. Communicable diseases like AIDS are killing many as a result of unawareness.

Our strategy
We build our strategies upon policies that support the community as a whole. We focus on inclusivity, holism, and sustainability to design efficient projects.

Our work
Promoting awareness of human rights and the HIV epidemic among vulnerable groups. Undergoing practices and projects that promote community development by focusing on beneficiaries’ rights to safety, healthcare, education, income generation, and counselling.

Last updated: September 2020

Keep reading to learn about the reasons for our policy interventions, and to see a breakdown of our policy methodology and costs.

Click to view the enlarged system map
  • Indigenous people - Tiruvannamalai
  • HIV victim family
  • HIV Victim family with the sponsored children
  • An HIV infected mother in her final days
  • Field blood collection for HIV test
  • Raising rights awareness through mass gathering
  • One of the initial groups of SHAPE's beneficiaries
  • Condom awareness to tribal women
  • Community classes
  • Physically challenged - Rights
  • Awareness campaign being conducted over HIV

Wider Context

Discrimination

Rights

Labels such as caste, gender, and physical or mental ability act as the largest obstacles to equality and tolerance in India. Acting as inborn trademarks, such qualities serve as brick walls that are seemingly impossible to tear down and move past. As a direct result of such labels, low-caste communities occupying the rural regions, women, and children born with HIV tend not to enjoy the basic rights that all humans around the world are entitled to.

Low-caste societies, occasionally named the “untouchables”, women, and children suffering from HIV tend to face discrimination in education, housing, employment [1], sanitation, water quality, and food security [2]. They are born ‘unworthy’ of such ‘privileges’. Centuries of severe prejudice have paved the way for widespread illiteracy, poverty, and public health issues [3].

To add onto their lowly way of life, discrimination leads to both physical and verbal abuse [1]. More than 50,000 caste-based crimes are committed in India per year, and that number only reflects the crimes which are actually reported [4]. Furthermore, women tend to endure violence in their households. Click here to learn more.  

Health

A communicable disease is an illness that is transmitted from one person to another via an infectious agent. AIDS is an example that spreads by way of the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. India has seen a frightening increase in the rate of HIV infection, standing third in the spread of the virus at the global level. Today, India, a country with a population of more than one billion, has an overall infection rate of about 0.3%. To put things in perspective, that means 2.1 million people are infected [5]. Moreover, there are collectively over 10,000 documented HIV victims in our project areas [6], with Tamil Nadu standing high in the national HIV ranking [7].

Spread of HIV is concentrated in regions where unprotected sex between sex workers and their clients is prevalent. In fact, 80% of HIV infection happens sexually. Further, HIV is widely spread through intravenous drug use due to the usage of contaminated injecting equipment [8].

This rapid spread of HIV is mainly a result of ignorance and unawareness. The generally uneducated rural people of India are unfamiliar with the transmission routes of the virus and the measures they could take to prevent spread. “Unless we take concerted efforts, this killer disease may pose the greatest challenge to humanity. I make a fervent appeal to the NGOs, the opinion-makers in the society, and the public at large to join hands in creating a society free from the scare of HIV and AIDS”, said S. Semmalai, former Health Minister in Tamil Nadu. Thus, through spreading awareness, we could battle this “killer disease”.

Policy

Community rights & health

We cannot develop as a community if there is any man left behind. We cannot progress as a society if the needs and wishes of every individual are not placed at the forefront of our efforts. Community development must entail communal harmony, and that is achieved when all members are allowed to enjoy happy, healthy, fulfilling lives. Thus, policies must focus on inclusivity, holism, and sustainability

1. Inclusivity: Development can only be considered effective if its benefits are accessible to all members of the community, including its most marginalized groups, lest development perpetuate existing inequalities and injustices [9]. For instance, advancements in healthcare facilities must be equally as available to women as it is to men. However, due to certain local traditions and cultures, women may be prohibited from seeking medical help, and so would be deprived of such improvements [10]. Therefore, policies and projects must be structured within the grander scheme of systems in India, in order to ensure inclusivity.

2. Holism: A holistic approach to development is the only plausible way in which long-term success is ensured. In regard to the HIV epidemic, it seems to be concentrated within the rural regions of India, like Tamil Nadu. The people tend to be unaware and uneducated, and this can be linked back to the extensive impoverishment in such areas. Such brutal poverty further leads to migration of youth to the urban cities, where some resort to sex work [11]. This industry is comprised of jobs with a high risk of STD transmission, and so a cycle begins. Thus, in order to address such a transmissible disease, one must connect all the dots and devote himself to improving every step along the way. Moreover, our children, women, and environmental development projects help us in holistically undertaking community development.

3. Sustainability: In order for our projects to be worthwhile, they must yield sustainable results that allow for steady development. This can be achieved by designing developmental ventures with local community members. In this way, we can promote awareness regarding the invaluable nature of the project and train members to continue such work independently once our work is officially over.

Our approach

At SHAPE, we dream of harmony and prosperity for our communities. Therefore, through our human rights, community health, and community development projects, we aim on shaping well-rounded citizens who join hands to work on advancing the community together.

Community awareness

The first step to effecting social change is spreading awareness.

1. We hold human rights awareness projects in order to arm citizens with human rights education. In this way, we bring attention to the basic rights that all groups in India must expect. These efforts are specifically directed towards marginalized groups that have faced years of prejudiced discrimination. Thus, we awaken low-caste groups, undocumented communities, tribes, women, and physically/mentally challenged citizens to their rights to water, food, shelter, safety, healthcare, education, employment, and governmental support [12][13].

2. We run health awareness campaigns to educate communities about infectious diseases such as AIDS. In order to tackle this epidemic, campaigns are being conducted in brothels, business locations, and educational institutions where at-risk groups work and socialize. Our highly motivated health workers carry out meetings and interventions to inform citizens about the preventive measures they can take to evade this killer disease. Through our Medical Awareness Joint Venture Project with the government of India, we have already tested and educated over 400,000 people.

Community assistance

In order for our communities to develop, we must form a solid foundation upon which our beneficiaries can stand and support themselves.

1. Following a holistic approach, we fight for children, women, and the environment. These developmental schemes help us further the communities in our project areas.

2. We assist community members in obtaining governmental welfare schemes which grant them access to food, clothing, shelter, and education.

3. We supply our identified child HIV victims with health supplements and other necessities such as study materials, clothes, sports items, books, toys, and money for their education and daily commute. We fully sponsor 10 HIV orphans, tending to their every need.

4. We grant scholarships and financial aid to youth afflicted with HIV who are sometimes discriminated against within educational institutions.

5. We provide counselling and rehabilitation for people living with HIV/AIDS.

6. We organize self-help groups, seminars, and mass-rallies through which members can cooperate. Through such arrangements, beneficiaries can help each other out and can continue to independently effect change long after the completion and success of our projects.

References

[1]https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ilrf.12081?af=R
[2]https://heinonline.org/HOL/AuthorProfile?collection=journals&search_name=Pruitt,%20Lisa%20R.&base=js
[3]https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=762592
[4]https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/02/22/these-were-the-12-major-human-rights-violations-in-india-in-2015_a_21719034/
[5]https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/asia-pacific/india
[6]DAPCU, NACO
[7]http://naco.gov.in/hiv-facts-figures
[8]https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/07/10/hiv-aids-india
[9]https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/25461/1/cullet-policy-as-law-SJIL.pdf
[10]https://europepmc.org/article/med/30955917
[11]http://naco.gov.in/sites/default/files/HIV%20SENTINEL%20SURVEILLANCE_06_12_2017_0.pdf
[12]https ://www.firstpost.com/india/human-rights-education-will-help-get-rid-of-caste-discrimination-social-justice-min-178639.html# :~ :text=Terming%20the%20prevailing%20caste%20system,rid%20of%20caste%2Dbased%20discrimination.
[13]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256029656_Ending_Caste_Discrimination_in_India_Human_Rights_and_the_Responsibility_To_Protect_R2P_Individuals_and_Groups_From_Discrimination_at_the_Domestic_and_International_Levels


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