Disability rights in the DR Congo have taken a significant step forward in recent times. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with its approximately 102 million people, is home to about 10.5 million individuals living with various disabilities, including those caused by infectious diseases, war injuries, congenital defects and more. For decades, this substantial 15% of the population has faced marginalization in various aspects of Congolese society. However, there is reason for optimism as a new law, which came into force in May of 2022, provides increased protection and recognition for people living with disabilities in the DR Congo.
Organic Law No. 22/003 prohibits discrimination against any person living with a disability in the DR Congo, including unfairness within the workplace or at school, and protects the right to fair wages, accessibility and representation.
The implementation of this law is helping to create several positive effects for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. First, the law gives people with disabilities a chance to live with the same rights and opportunities as any other person. Secondly, the law strengthens the DRC’s governmental system at its core; by developing specialized structures for the benefit of people with disabilities, the government is now able to create more policies for the establishment of other organizations and implementations of policies for other vulnerable Congolese. This law could be a crucial turning point for the DRC’s future law-making processes.
In the past, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had not given persons with disabilities equal access to health care, housing, social protection, cultural expression and several other opportunities. Some Congolese have accused people with disabilities of witchcraft, and they are therefore the target of abuse and even torture. Historically, there have often been no responses of aid or help of any kind for these people with disabilities.
Although the law has only begun to spring into action, it is a good start to creating sustainable change.
Who Has It Helped?
With the Organic Law implementing respect, non-discrimination and accessibility for Congolese living with disabilities, it has already started to change lives for the better. For example, one 26-year-old Congolese woman named Charly explains to the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) network that she was born with a physical disability causing her to be abandoned by her parents as a young girl. Fortunately, she is currently being supported by a CBM-funded organization and is undergoing occupational training at a Restoration African Center in the DRC. CBM is helping to create change for people living with disabilities by working with the government to provide technical care and support.
Overall, Organic Law No. 22/003 has been beneficial for people throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo and continues to do good for the country’s humanitarian efforts.
– Nina Donlin