Editorial | Leave no one behind in enforcing rights


Human trafficking is an ugly, sordid crime which unfortunately is prevalent all over the word as well as in this metro.
The courts of Nelson Mandela Bay have recently been exposed to a case which is particularly shocking as it concerns a mentally disabled child.
The prosecution alleges that after the death of her mother, the relatives of a 13-year-old girl arranged for her to be married to a 61-year-old man who raped her.
On Monday, this case was due to be heard but was postponed and the judge said there would be “substantial prejudice” if it was pushed back to the next term.
“[We cannot allow] the trial to be stretched out,” he said, referring to the situation of the young complainant and we agree that it must be dealt with as promptly as possible to spare any further anguish.
It is the victim’s family here who are accused of this vile crime – precisely those who should be keeping her safe.
What makes it doubly tragic is that she is mentally disabled and thus at greater risk of being abused.
SA has a wonderful constitution which should in theory enable protective services to be rendered to those in need.
However, cases like this remind us how far short of the ideal the country falls.
In his speech on Human Rights Day last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the rights of the disabled.
He promised to move with urgency to sign and ratify the Africa Disability Protocol, in terms of the requirements of our law, so that it might soon become an official legal instrument of the African Union.
This protocol aims at ensuring children with disabilities are not abducted, sold or trafficked, and that they are protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.
The average SA citizen or anyone aware of our liberated constitution should feel horrified that in the 21st century anyone may have been, in effect, sold into sexual slavery.
Persons with disabilities face an uphill battle for access to all of the basic human rights that are protected and enforced through our constitution, but in the struggle for human rights we must leave no one behind.

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