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FODPZ tackles intrusive media coverage of disability issues

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

A local Non-Governmental Organisation held a media workshop on Monday to sensitise journalists to report objectively and extensively on disability issues.

Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) director Leonard Marange said while there has generally been fair coverage on disability issues, it is the terminology accompanying media stories that has been of concern.

“While we appreciate the media in reporting fairly on disability issues, our main concern is the use of terminology which is not appropriate for describing people with disabilities (PWDs),” he said.

The journalists, drawn from the mainstream and online media, were equipped with a glossary of appropriate terminology to use when describing people with disabilities plus the ‘do’s and don’ts’ when interviewing them.

According to FODPZ programme manager Hilda Mupfumira, people with disabilities continue to face myriad barriers in terms of participation in all facets of life.

“There are a number of barriers that maybe physical/environmental – infrastructure, for example roads, buildings and transport.

“Communication barriers – lack of access to information in accessible formats and access to media.

“Then we also have institutional or systematic barriers that hinder the effective participation of people with disabilities,” Mupfumira said.

She said the rights of people with disabilities were being violated by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through assisted voting adding the controversial practice deprived them of their right to privacy.

“As an organisation we are still worried that PWDs (people with disabilities) need to be assisted to vote and we see it as an infringement of their right to privacy,” added Mupfumira.

Meanwhile, FODPZ director Leonard Marange recommends that laws and policies on disability should be aligned with the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for PWDs to fully enjoy their rights.

“While we applaud government for crafting the National Disability Policy, there are also various laws like the Mental Health Act which we feel are discriminatory and need to aligned with the CRPD which Zimbabwe is a signatory to.

“We also want the Persons with Disabilities Bill to be enacted into law,” Marange added.

FODPZ has 41 members comprised of 35 organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs), who are ordinary members, 14 OPD associate members, and 6 Disability Services Organisations (DSOs).

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