Disabled need fair treatment

HARARE - PEOPLE with disabilities are often denied equal enjoyment of their rights because of a socially constructed status ascribed to them by tradition and custom.

And as a result of overt or covert discrimination, they often face discrimination of the worst kind in areas of education, employment, family and reproductive health.

They are often subjected to violence and even sexual abuse by people they know and trust. In all this, physically-challenged women bear the worst brunt of this abuse.

A gender forum debate recently held at the Book Café in Harare revealed that while society tends to paint a picture of disabled people as asexual, genderless human beings, they have the same feelings able-bodied persons have.

Disability rights activists say they want to love and be loved and bear children because that is their God-given role.

But, sadly, society has not made those dreams come true.

Disabled women face difficulties in accessing basic health services, let alone maternity services in the country.

This is an indictment on all of us as a country. Is this right, three decades after attaining independence?

It is, however, comforting that the new Constitution has provisions that cater for disabled men and women.

We, therefore, urge government to implement constitutional provision 22 which upholds disabled persons’ rights, particularly their right to be treated with dignity.

It is our hope that the new administration will assist disabled persons to reach their full potential as well as to develop programmes for their welfare, consistent with their abilities.

Representation of people living with disabilities in decision making positions across all sectors would also go a long way in ensuring that their rights are not infringed upon.

We also urge the new government to ensure that disabled persons are able to access buildings and amenities which other able-bodied people can access.

We are also concerned about access to information on health-related issues such as prevention of HIV for the blind. This is because some information on prevention like the use of condoms is not easily accessible for the blind.

While government has a significant role to play in ensuring that disabled persons access their fundamental rights, society also has a role to play.

This can be done by raising awareness of some of these challenges and fostering an environment which takes care of the requirements of disabled persons as part of our development programmes.

Comments (1)

This is a very good and educative article. Indeed the disabled want to love and be loved and bear children because that is their God-given role. Gone should be days when a woman with disability gets pregnant and people who will be sympathizing with her or calling her names!

Rose - 19 September 2013

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