Senior researcher, South African Human Rights Commission
In South Africa, the issue of human rights is far from simple. On the one hand we have a constitution renowned for its progressive nature, while at the same time we struggle with the challenges of implementing its laws.
Faraaz Mahomed is a 31-year-old South African who is determined to use his learning to contribute to a better society. As a senior researcher at the South African Human Rights Commission, Faraaz’s focus is on discrimination relating to race, gender, sexual orientation and nationality.
He sits on various steering committees for change, including South Africa’s National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances, and the National Task Team to Combat Gender and Sexual Orientation-Based Violence.
Faraaz has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and another in public policy, specialising in human rights, a combination that provides him with an interesting depth of learning that he can apply to his work. The latter degree was earned as a Fulbright scholar in the US, where he spent time working with Amnesty International before bringing his expertise back to South Africa.
Faraaz has worked in HIV/TB/STI clinics in Khayelitsha, trained community health workers on human rights issues, met Barack Obama and travelled to every continent. All of this was to nurture his understanding of the world around him. He runs a small practice as a clinical psychologist, while also holding two university research fellowships and pursuing a PhD.
Faraaz sees the nature of South Africa’s human rights landscape as a significant challenge.
“We have a really strong Constitution and we have progressive laws and policies in place. However, human rights are also about implementation, which South Africa struggles with. A human rights culture is about shifts in public perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. We can have all the right laws, but if people do not believe in them, we will not be able to foster a human rights culture.” — Linda Doke