Persons With ‘ Different’ Abilities – Social Discrimination
|Sheshu Babu 2 Dec 2017|
Since 1992, after the end of observing a decade for disabled persons (1983 -1992), every year, December 3 is being celebrated as ‘ international day of disabled persons’ and many events felicitating disabled persons has become common in India as in other countries.
According to disability statistics, around 10% of total world population or around 650 million suffer some form of disability. ( www.disabled-world.com). Acording to WHO world disability report ( www.who.int), which was the first ever published report on the state of disabled persons elaborately, about 15% or over 1 billion live with some form of disability. Thus, the number is more than the previous WHO estimates of 10%
Over the past one year, the number of attacks on disabled have increased. Many children, women and marginalised sections with disability were humiliated. Recently, a video of a child with special needs was tied to a chair in Punjab ( November24, kracktivist.org). In Australia, disabled children were beaten with sticks and tied in schools ( published August14, 2017, dailymail.co.uk) and autistic boy tied to a chair ( www.australianewstoday.com). Thus, education system has become a nightmare for disabled children. Even the Supreme Court of India proposed ‘Edpartheid’ which was denonced by disabled woman activist Abha Khetarpal ( November24, kracktivist.org). An RTI report ( November24, Youthkiawaz.con) reveals that IIT Kanpur has failed students of certain castes including physically disabled persons for the past five years at least.
Even disabled persons with good academic background are being segregated in public places like hotels and air ports. Even after paying extra money, disabled are being denied special facilities. (Disabled woman claims Virgin Atlantic denied service … May 12, www.foxnews.com). Thus, disabled are being discriminated irrespective of class or gender. While the rich upper strata have to bear discrimination on the grounds of disability, the poor lower caste disabled ( who form majority ) bear humiliation on the grounds of caste or class too.
Long before the UN recognising rights of disabled, in 1980, about 200 blind persons were lathi- charged in Delhi for organising protests demanding reservations.( April 15, 1980, indiatoday.in). Even in Lahore, blind protesters who participated in a rally for the implementation of their rights were brutally lathi- charged recently in2014 (thepatriot.com). Thus, assaults on disabled have continued in many parts of the world despite some awareness.
State repression on disabled has also increased. The incarceration of 90% disabled professor Saibaba is an example of inhuman character of state and judicial system. Even his appeals to provide basic medical and living facilities are not being considered. The state is ruthlessly suppressing disabled political and social activists who actively participate in dissent. Ahmed Yassin, (1937 -22 March 2004), Palestine imam, a quadriplegic was a near- blind and used a wheel chair, was killed in Israeli attacks. He was a politician loved by the people for his services. ( wikipedia). This not only indicates that state views handicapped persons as potential danger despite their ‘ disability’ but also the power of assertion of disabled and their grit in challenging state
Struggle despite discrimination
Whether Stephen Hawkins or Helen Keller, the disabled challenged social discrimination and came out triumphant. They have even expressed dissent on many political issues. They inspired many normal political and social activists .
The struggle is not yet over. Disabled are being denied many fundamental rights and equal opportunities. They have to take the assistance of RTI activists to know about the facilities they are entitled to and government schemes for empowering them. At the same time, they should work for the poor, the downtrodden and deprived sections of society. They should organise and participate in political agitations against state tyranny and injustice.
The disabled day is an occasion to assert their presence socially and politically braving every form of discrimination.