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As part of commemorating the International Week of Deaf People, members of the hearing-impaired community gathered in Johannesburg to raise awareness about gender-based violence in the deaf community at Marks Park Sports Club in Emmarentia, Johannesburg. 

The International Week of Deaf People runs from 19 to 25 September 2022. It is commemorated annually to draw the attention of the public, government and business leaders towards issues affecting the deaf community. 

During the commemoration week, organisations of deaf people throughout the world are encouraged to better meet the demands and needs of deaf people as well as ensure that the community’s rights are protected.

“Our plea to the authorities is to act swiftly and ensure that there are SA Sign Language services available at key service points such as police stations, clinics and hospitals. Many incidents go unreported and we are worried this may lead to the normalisation of GBV in the deaf community,” says Cebisile Ndebele, Chairperson of the Neema Foundation for the Deaf.

In his opening remarks, MMC for Health and Social Development Councillor Ashley Sauls  welcomed the participants taking the 5km fun walk, reminding them that the City of Joburg is a caring and inclusive city that respects and takes the needs of every citizen seriously.

“I want you to understand that we genuinely CARE about the deaf community. This should be a message to all of you that today as I walk with you on this 5km, I want you to know that it is a start of me committing, as the department and as the MMC for Social Development. It is the beginning of a long walk together based on your needs and what you deserve,” he said.  He added that the walk touched him and made him appreciate his blessings, including not having impaired hearing It is time for us to listen with our hearts.  

According to the CEO of eDeaf, Ms Nazereen Bhana, eighty percent of people in the deaf community cannot access services from government. 

“There is hardly an interpreter who can be a voice for you to be heard and understood when you go to places like the police station or other government facilities. This is discouraging and very frustrating for us as the deaf community.

“We have students that get abused at schools and student facilities because they hardly hear a word,” said Ms Bhana.

The family event ended with aerobics, tennis, yoga and other activities.

Neema is collaborating with the City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Provincial Government, City of Ekurhuleni, Safer South Africa Foundation, eDeaf and Tears Foundation.​


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