Rights – Evidence – ACTion (REAct)

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Rights – Evidence – ACTion (REAct) documents human rights-related barriers in accessing HIV and health services.

In many places, stigma, discrimination, violence and criminalisation of people living with HIV and other marginalised populations is increasing. In response, we developed REAct, a human rights monitoring and response system that records and manages information about violations. This information can then be used to inform HIV programming, policy and advocacy at national, regional and global levels.

hOW WE Do it

Trained staff (known as REActors) in community-based organisations record individual cases to:

  • Improve the local crisis response to individual emergencies
  • Influence the change of practices at community and service provision level that perpetuate and condone rights abuses
  • Inform quality human rights based HIV programming, policy and advocacy at national, regional and global level
  • Identify community needs relating to human rights and HIV programming – ranging from legal literacy to stakeholder engagement, including law reform and access to justice
  • Support civil society source funding to continue this work

Where we do it

We implement REAct in collaboration with our partners in 24 countries, thanks to over 250 Community Representatives who are trained in REAct. These REActors gather individual case information from their clients on the specific issues they face – from police abuse to inequitable health care, from gender-based violence to denial of property rights, and from prejudiced media coverage to discriminatory employment practices. REActors are usually members of the community who also work as peer educators and outreach workers.

Our impact

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

  • Civil society partners in Lebanon and Tunisia have documented 240 human rights cases and responded by providing legal and psychosocial support, food and shelter, and access to HIV and other health services.
  • One organisation supported eight LGBTI people to access surgery or other medical treatment after they were beaten by police officers.
  • Another supported a young gay man who was kidnapped and tortured by militia. He sought asylum in Tunisia, where the organisation provided him with psychological care, housing assistance and social support.
  • Tunisian parliament went on to pass the Organic Law on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Tunisia. The evidence from the cases documented under REAct, which organisations used to advocate for the law, contributed to it being passed.

Southern Africa

  • From the period December 2016 to September 2018, a total of 357 cases were collected by REActors across 8 countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) with a total of 478 affected individuals.
  • The most commonly experienced human rights violations recorded by REActors include: violent assault or abuse (27%), sexual assault (17%), harassment and intimidation (12.5%), and denial of health access (7.81% ). 142 responses were provided, including legal (25%) and medical (38%) assistance, counselling (17%), shelter (17%) and assistance in reporting to police (4%).

I, myself, am an activist who has faced persecution. I can show groups from across Africa that, through REAct, we have a system and it works. The more countries that use REAct, the more we can combine our evidence and the more we can combine our response.Research and Documentation Manager, SMUG

Case studies

  • Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) were early pioneers of REAct, having been one of the first organisations to take part in the development as well as the implementation of REAct. SMUG produced an advocacy report from the testimonies collected through REAct called ‘And that’s how I survived being killed”.
  • Positive Vibes have implemented REAct in several countries in Southern Africa through their KP Reach Programme. They publish REAct newsletters on an annual basis.
  • PITCH produced a case study based on the implementation of REAct, called ‘REActing to Reality’.
  • Alliance India implement REAct within their Wajood project, which aims to reach transgender and hijra people to increase access to sexual health, gender-based violence mitigation and increase social wellbeing.
  • A number of REAct cases have been collected together for Silent Stories, a publication by MENA Rosa that is being shared with decision makers throughout the region.

REAct Guide

If you are interested in learning more about REAct, please read this guide. There are five units which provide information on the principles behind the system; the steps you need to take to set it up; who needs to be involved; what the human rights issues are; how to collect data; using the information management tool; adapting the system to your context; and how to implement REAct.

Read the REAct guide

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