Africa: Litigation, a Mechanism to Ensure Justice as well as End Stigma for Hansen's Disease

Manila — Professor Ai Kurosaka remembers the day she first interacted which has a person affected by Hansen’s disease. the item was 2003 as well as Kurosaka, then a graduate student of sociology at the Saitama University in Japan, had been assigned to interview ex-patients as well as their family members to document what kind of discrimination they faced. the item was a very difficult task because nobody wanted to speak or identify themselves.

“They had already faced a lot of social discrimination such as bullying faced by children at school, physical violence by partners at home, refusal of marriage as well as employment as well as so on. They were scared of facing more of the item by publicly admitting they were associated with Hansen’s disease,” Kurosaka recalls.

Fifteen years later, Kurosaka, who has since written a book on people affected by Hansen’s disease in Japan, is usually sharing their stories globally.

At the Global Forum of People’s Organisations on Hansen’s disease currently underway in Manila, Philippines, Kurosaka shared one story in which 561 ex-patients of Hansen’s disease as well as their family members filed a class action lawsuit seeking justice as well as financial compensation against Japan’s government.

Compensation was sought for the discrimination as well as violations of rights they suffered for generations, especially due to a government policy in which segregated Hansen’s disease patients coming from their families before the country was declared free of the disease in 1996.

The suit was filed at the Kumamoto court of Japan in March 2016, as well as for the very first time two generations came together as well as reveal how their human rights were violated for decades.

This specific June, the court passed a verdict in their favour as well as ordered the government to pay compensation.

According to Kurosaka, This specific is usually a fine example of using litigation as a tool to hold the government responsible for allowing discrimination as well as to also right the wrongs in which have been done to Hansen’s disease patients as well as their families.

“Every country where Hansen’s disease patients have been facing stigma, can use This specific tool to ask for justice. Maybe not everyone will win a monetary compensation, yet they can ask the government to abolish any discriminatory law or policies in which still exist,” Kurosaka told IPS.

The success story coming from Japan created a wave of reactions within the global forum as the item resonated with many who have faced discrimination on multiple levels. Lilibeth Nwakaeogo, a human rights lawyer coming from Nigeria, said in which she was currently considering filing a lawsuit to ask for compensation for the most stigmatised people living with Hansen’s disease within the West African nation.