The International Leprosy Union (ILU) decided to constitute a Human Rights Committee to protect the rights of leprosy-affected persons on Monday. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Naik will be the president of the committee.
Since 2007, ILU has filed 151 cases with the national and state human rights commissions, of which 93 cases have resulted in decisions in favour of the leprosy-affected person and 40 are still pending. “We have got justice in nearly 75% of the cases,” said Dr SD Gokhale, president of ILU.
Most of the cases are related to problems such as usurping of land by a relative, social stigma, discrimination and employment-related problems.
One of the cases ILU solved in Mumbai includes a 72-year-old man from Trombay who was denied his right to his ancestral properly at Yavatmal. “Our involvement in his case ensured he got more than seven acres worth of his property. A 36-year-old man also got employment with the Thane civic body,” said Rasol Mulla, president of Abhinav Jyan Marathi School in Trombay, a school exclusively for children of leprosy patients.
The committee will also lobby for a repeal of 19 discriminatory laws. “In our marriage laws, a person can divorce a leprosy patient. This has to be repealed, as the disease is completely treatable,” said Dr Gokhale.
The committee is also seeking the implementation of a 2008 Parliamentary committee report on petitions that has recommended that allowance to an affected patient be increased from Rs600 per month to Rs. 2000 per month.