Covid-19 and LGBTQ women in southern Africa – a test for universal human rights

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09/11/2020

Since March 2020, governments in southern Africa have imposed lockdown measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in the sub-region. The measures include the deployment of police and soldiers, with an apparent mandate to ensure that citizens stay at home, and, in some cases, obey curfew. Many instances of law enforcement have been heavy handed and violent. Regulations have generally overlooked the safety and social concerns of people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ) communities who indicate that lockdowns have, in most instances, lacked due consideration for their safeguards and been devoid of social care measures appropriate to their needs. For example, in Zimbabwe the lack of reliable and affordable social services and utilities has affected the LGBTQ community. One of the key public health prevention messages that governments have pushed is frequent hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds with running water and soap. Yet, as Caroline Mudzengi, programmes manager at the LGBTQ feminist collective Voice of the Voiceless (VOVO) observes, government has failed to reliably supply water to homes in her neighborhood in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

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