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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.40 n.1 Pretoria Mar. 2010




Occupational therapy and the quest for human dignity: Why human rights matter



Tania van der Merwe

B. Arb (UFS), M. Arb (UFS); Lecturer, Dept Occupational Therapy, University of the Free State





Human rights are often regarded as an encumbered term. People, who are marginalised by socio-political factors beyond their control, grapple with the relevance of human rights to their everyday life experience. Based on South Africa's history many citizens have experienced discriminatory barriers of some sort, therefore educating students and clients in human rights is imperative. This paper explores a critical view of the relevance of human rights to occupational therapy in terms of the various offices an occupational therapist occupies. An overview is given of possible challenges that might need to be overcome in applying the human rights framework in everyday life and practice with the view to stimulating discourse on cultivating a human rights culture in the occupational therapy profession's quest for human dignity.

Key words: occupational therapy, South Africa, human rights, human dignity



“Full text available only in PDF format”




The author wishes to thank Prof. Theresa Lorenzo, Unit for Disability Studies at the University of Cape Town for making possible the attendance of the 'Human Rights-and-Health-Train-the-Trainers-Course' in 2007. My sincere gratitude to Mr JC van der Merwe, Head of Department Philosophy at the University of the Free State, for his insightful suggestions, and invaluable teachings in argumentation and writing in the paradigm of critical theory. Thank you also to the reviewers for thorough and constructive feedback and valuable time. Finally, thank you to my students who continue to teach me the better ways to educate.



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Tania van der Merwe

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