ATTN – Mumbai Rising For Disability Access @May24th #Mustshare


Is it possible to lock out millions of people in a city from accessing the most basic facilities? Would the constitution and the law of the nation allow it?

disability-discrimination1

You don’t have to go far to find out because right here in the city of Mumbai millions of people undergo such blatant discrimination. For example if you are in a wheelchair, you’ll find over 90% of the city in lock-down, in a curfew for you. It’s not much different if you are a senior citizen, or a mother who likes to carry your baby in a pram, or are suffering from a temporary disability due to an accident.

 

Taking care of this is simple and inexpensive. Ramps don’t cost much. Stair  lifts, elevators and adjusted toilets are a one time investment that opens up establishments to nearly 15% extra consumer base. The law requires that you take these most basic steps. (Persons With Disabilities Act Chapter 3).

 

Yet, go anywhere in the city and you’ll find that these simple things have not been taken care of. The result – it becomes hazardous and dangerous to the lives of people with special needs who do try to use these establishments.

 

Hundreds of Mumbaikars, including people with disabilities and some of Mumbai’s most prominent citizens – writers, artists, filmmakers and activists – are coming together on the 24th of May, to protest against this denial of one of the most fundamental of rights, the right to live and move freely about their city, to people with disabilities.

 

In attendance will be over 100 people in wheelchairs, BMC and govt. officials, prominent Mumbai citizens, artists, activists, filmmakers, actors etc. People who have confirmed their attendance include Dia Mirza, Kalki Kochelin, Nagesh Kukunoor, Homi Adjania, Anil Dharker, Shobha De and Bachi Karkaria among many others.

 

The protest that will also launch a 2-year-long campaign to make Mumbai accessible called ‘MUMBAI RISING FOR DISABILITY ACCESS – WE ARE PEOPLE TOO” is organized by the ADAPT Rights Group, the activist wing of the Spastics Society of India (now called ADAPT).

 

Venue: Kala Ghoda

Time: 5:30 PM, 24th May 2013.

 

 

RSVP: Satyen K. Bordoloi 9967970320, satyens@gmail.com

  Varsha Hooja 9324087570, varsha.adapt@gmail.com

 

PRESS RELEASE- WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues


 

WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues

 

It is estimated that 15% of the population of India is disabled. A large chunk of them are wheelchair bound. Being bonafide citizens of the nation, it is the duty of the government to take care of them like any other citizens. Though slow on the uptake, the government has been moving in to take the most basic steps beginning with ensuring that all public places like public transport, parks and commercial establishments are accessible to people with disabilities including people on wheelchairs.

 

However, an accident last evening (7th May, 2013) highlights the callous way in which both government laws and public opinions are overlooked and sidestepped by businesses.

 

Malini Chib, my daughter who despite her cerebral palsy has not let that hamper her life garnering two masters degree and writing a best-selling book (One Little Finger), had gone to the Westside store in Fort to do shopping for women’s apparel. Finding no lift for the floor leading to the women’s section, she told her friend: ‘Lets try the escalator’. What she did not realize is that no person on a wheelchair who has problems of balance should do this.

 

The result was expected. Both of them had a massive fall leading to cuts and bruises on Malini’s shoulder, waist and arms. Her friend got her back muscle pulled.

 

This would have just been an unfortunate accident had it not been for two things: one is the law that stipulates that such establishments make their place disabled friendly, and secondly the fact that five years back the ADAPT Rights Group, that works to ensure rights for people with disabilities, had carried out a protest demonstration highlighting this and other issues that goes against the interest of the community of people with disabilities. The demonstration was held to alert Westside to how their international stores were anti-disability. This was followed with lengthy letters written to them about the law and how they can make their place disabled friendly by constructing ramps and lifts for their floor upstairs.

 

Sadly, Westside has continued to blatantly and flagrantly flout the law. My daughter and her friend were lucky to get away with no permanent damage but I dread to think what could have happened. I dread to think what might happen to other people with disabilities that might walk into the store unwittingly. I dread to think of what must be happening to thousands of disabled people across the country in hundreds and thousands of such establishments which show such blatant antipathy towards the disabled population.

 

It is high time that the gravity of the issue be understood and addressed. It is high time that the people responsible in Westside for this travesty of justice be seriously warned so that it becomes a lesson to others concerned.

 

This is in the interest of 15% people of the nation and thus in the interest of the nation itself. 

 

-          Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson ADAPT – Able Disabled All People Together (formerly the Spastics Society of India)

 

 

#India – Locals oppose steel plant expansion plan


By Express News Service – JAIPUR

13th April 2013 08:52 AM

Many locals including PRI members present at a public hearing on Friday objected to proposed expansion of Mideast Integrated Steels Limited (MISL) at Kalinga Nagar industrial complex area in the district.

The villagers raised objection to organising the public hearing, convened by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), without prior information to them.

They alleged that it was a ploy by the company officials to ensure that villagers cannot attend it.Though around 200 people had congregated at the venue of Danagadi Bhawan under Danagadi block, only 22 of them participated in the hearing. Out of them, 17 participants opposed its expansion.

“The company has already polluted the entire area. As the nearby Gandanal, used by thousands of people, has been polluted, people residing around the plant are suffering from tuberculosis and various skin diseases. The company never provides any medical assistance to us and has never cared to improve our standard of living,” said vice-chairman of Danagadi block Sudhakar Bhanj at the meeting.

Bidyadhar Mohanty, another participant, alleged that MISL has been providing work for only six months to its workers in a year. If the company remains closed for half of the year, why should it be allowed for expansion.

Regional Officer of OSPCB Santosh Kumar Panda admitted that only 22 persons participated in the hearing.

 

#India -Republic Day tableau calls disabled ‘powerless’ #WTFnews #disability


By , TNN | Jan 23, 2013,

Republic Day tableau calls disabled ‘powerless’
A tableau at the Republic Day rehearsal on Tuesday
NEW DELHI: It’s supposed to empower the disabled, but if the newly formed department of disability affairs has its way, it would call itself the ‘department of the powerless’. At least that’s the name it has given itself in Hindi — nishaktata karya vibhag. Now, to the anger of activists, even a tableau for people with disabilities that will be part of this year’s Republic Day parade has the same inscription in Hindi.The activists, who noticed the name on the tableau three days ago, want it changed immediately. But that is easier demanded than done.

“With difficulty we had managed to convince the government to have a tableau on the disabled. When we finally have one, the inscription on it is so offensive that it has ruined all the work we had done on the issue. To add further insult, the commentator will repeat the word nishakt constantly and the entire country will listen to it. It’s an abusive word,” said Javed Abidi, convener of Disability Rights Group.

The defence ministry has agreed to change the word on the tableau but says it needs a written request from the department of disability affairs. Stuti Kacker, secretary, ministry of social justice and empowerment, said the department was trying its best to change the name. “I can only refer the matter. We hope a decision will be taken quickly,” she said.

Activists say it’s derogatory, demand change of name

Even if the inscription on the tableau is changed, the name of the department will remain till a change is approved by the Cabinet. Poonam Natarajan, chairwoman of National Trust, agreed that nishaktata is an inappropriate term. “Of course, it has to be changed. I think they are trying to change it to viklang jan karyashala. But the change has to be made at the Cabinet level,” she said.

“We noticed the word a few days ago while rehearsing. It’s very derogatory. In fact, state governments such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh still use the word apang (crippled), which is also demeaning. There is very little awareness about disability righ8ts,” said Pradeep Raj, a disability rights activist who is rehearsing for the Republic Day with 22 other youths with disabilities. Pradeep’s group first noticed the inscription on the tableau.

Abidi felt ‘nishaktata’ reminded him of the word ‘handicapped’, which was also considered offensive by disability rights activists. “We have moved on. No one uses the word handicapped anymore. It originated after the world war when disabled soldiers used to beg on the streets of Europe with a cap in their hands. In the 1990s, the term was phased out as it was considered offensive. Now even United Nations uses the word ‘disability’. In Hindi it should be viklang and definitely not nishakt,” he said.

 

#India- The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment- Review 2012 #disability


 

      Press Information Bureau English Releases

 

      28-Dec-2012

 

        The

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

        is entrusted with the empowerment of the disadvantaged and marginalized sections of the society. The target groups of the Ministry are: (i) scheduled Castes, (ii)

Other Backward Classes

      , (iii) Senior Citizens and (iv) Victims of Substance Abuse.

 

        Enhancement in Plan Outlay of the MinistryThere was an unprecedented increase of 136.60% in the plan outlay of the Ministry from Rs.2500 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 5915 crore in 2012-13 which includes the Budget Estimate of Department of Disability of Affairs. The plan Outlay allocated to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for

12th Five Year Plan

      has been enhanced to Rs 32684 crore from Rs 13043 crore in the 11th Five Year Plan…Department of Disability Affairs

 

      Creation of a new Department of Disability Affairs

 

        A new Department of Disability Affairs has been set up vide

Cabinet Secretariat

      ’s notification dated 12.05.2012. The Department has been allocated twenty five (25) subjects. Creation of a new Department would ensure greater focus on policy matters to effectively address disability issues. Having a separate budget would help in strengthening existing schemes, formulation of new schemes as also promotion of technological innovation in the sector. It would further boost greater coordination among stakeholders, organizations, state governments and related central ministries.

 

      New Draft Legislation on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 

        The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (

PwD

      Act) has been in force for over 15 years. In view of the need to review it and harmonize its provision with United Nations Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the Ministry constituted an experts committee, which submitted its report to the Ministry on 30.06.2011. The draft bill was uploaded on the Ministry’s website for comments. The Ministry also initiated consultations with 17 Central Ministries and Departments on provisions of the draft Bill concerning them. Based on the inputs received, a draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012 has been prepared and circulated in September, 2012 to all State Governments/Union Territories for their comments. The Bill will be introduced in the Parliament, after due consultations with the State Governments and other Stakeholders.

 

      Establishment of new District Disabled Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) and Composite Regional Centres (CRCs)

 

      District Disabled Rehabilitation Centres

 

      To create infrastructure and capacity building at district level for providing rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities, awareness generation, training rehabilitation professionals etc, the Ministry provides assistance for setting up of District Disabled Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) in un-served districts of the country. Until March, 2010, 199 DDRCs have been sanctioned.

 

        The Finance Minister had announced in his budget speech for 2010-11 that 100 new DDRCs would be opened during the remaining period of the XIth Five Year Plan. Accordingly, 100 districts in 20 States were identified and the concerned State Governments requested in June 2010 to send proposals for setting up new DDRCs. In the year 2010-11 & 2011-12, sanctions were issued for setting up of 33 new DDRCs. During the current year 2012-13, sanctions have been issued for setting up of four new DDRCs namely (1)

Mehboobnagar

        (Andhra Pradesh) (2) Howrah (

West Bengal

      ) (3) Bankura (West Bengal) & (4) Shivsagar (Assam).

 

      Composite Regional Centres

 

      The scheme of setting up of Composite Regional Centres is a part of overall strategy to reach out to the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the country and to facilitate the creation of the required infrastructure and capacity building at Central, State and District levels and below for awareness generation, training of rehabilitation professionals, service delivery etc. Centres are set up at locations where the existing infrastructure for providing comprehensive services to disabled were inadequate and where such centres are needed the most.

 

        There were eight CRCs functioning at Sundernagar, Srinagar, Lucknow, Guwahati, Patna, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and

Kozhikode

      . The new CRC at Kozhikode has been functional from February, 2012.

 

Rajiv Gandhi

      National Fellowship Scheme for Students with DisabilitiesA new Central Sector Scheme of Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities for persons with disabilities has been launched in November, 2012 to increase opportunities to students with disabilities for pursuing higher education leading to degrees such as M.Phil and Ph.D. The scheme caters to requirements of the students with disabilities for pursuing research degree in universities, research institutions and scientific institutions. The scheme has been made effective from 01.04.2012.

 

        The scheme caters total number of 200 Fellowships (Junior Research Fellows, JRF) per year to students with disabilities. The scheme covers all universities/institutions recognized by

University Grants Commission (UGC)

      and will be implemented by UGC itself. The rates of fellowship for JRF and SRF will be at par with the UGC fellowship.

 

#India-Assault on women with disabilities draws focus #Vaw


By , TNN | Jan 7, 2013,

KOLKATA: Close on the heels of the alleged rape bid on a woman with disabilities at Thakurpukur in December last year, 25 organizations representing persons with disabilities have petitioned Justice J S Verma, the chairperson of the commission formed to suggest amendments to laws on safety of women, “over its limited terms of reference”. The panel was formed after the Nirbhaya case.

Among all the cases of assault on women with disabilities cited in the petition, a majority took place in Bengal.

“Girls and women with disabilities are more vulnerable to exploitation. They are considered soft targets, with the perpetrators assuming they can get away easily. In many cases, such women are unable to comprehend or communicate about such acts of violence. Some reports suggest they are up to three times more likely to be victims of abuse as compared to other women,” says the petition. Three Bengal organizations – Centre for Care of Tortured Victims, Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani and Sruti Disability Rights Centre – are part of the petition prepared by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD).

“There are no consolidated figures on violence against women with disabilities. But the magnitude and scale of the attacks can be gauged by the fact that in 2012 alone there were

dozens of cases of sexual violence on women with disabilities were reported in the media from Bengal. Despite this, no attempt was made to map the magnitude of the problem. Neither the NCRB nor any other source has authentic figures,” says Muralidharan, NPRD assistant convener.

Several cases have been cited in the petition, with one case each from Chandigarh and Aurangabad and the rest from Bengal. It contains the testimony of a visual impaired girl at an event by Jadavpur University and Sruti Disability Rights Centre, who said: “I face sexual abuse regularly. I have to commute to college by public bus and need help in crossing roads and during bus rides where people take advantage of my condition. I can’t see, so identifying the molester is difficult. And others think he was just helping me board the bus. Who would believe me?”

Among the cases cited are the Bankura Medical College case, where a hearing-impaired girl was allegedly raped by a doctor in February 2012, the case of a national-level para-athlete who was allegedly raped by an auto driver in North Dinajpur in June 2012, and the Hooghly tragedy where a woman’s body was found buried at a home run by an NGO Dulal Smriti Samsad in July 2012.

The petition suggests several measures on compilation of data, support to victims, sensitization of police, monitoring of institutions and counselling and rehabilitation.

After a spate of attacks on women with disabilities, a team from the National Commission for Women visited Bengal in April 2012, and recommended that the requirements of persons with special needs have to be kept in mind by all police stations and medical establishments so that they are provided with support including services of interpreters, readers, professionals, psychologists and NGOs depending on the nature of the case. “A panel of experts for this purpose can be prepared for each district in consultation with the disabilities commissioner and the WCD department,” it said.

 

#India-Physically disabled girl raped by father in Noida #WTfnews #Vaw


Posted on: 02 Jan 2013,

 

Noida: With emotions after gang rape and murder of a paramedical student still running high in the national capital, a 15-year-old physically challenged girl on Tuesday alleged that she was raped by her father two days ago.

A case was on Tuesday registered in Dadri police station here and the accused was absconding, Superintendent of Police (rural) Ashok Kumar said.

“The girl in her complaint has alleged that on December 29, when her mother had gone to Aligarh and she was alone at home, her father gave her some sedatives and she fell unconscious,” the officer said.

Later she was allegedly raped by her father, he said. When her mother reached home, the minor girl narrated the incident to her, the SP said, adding that the woman took her daughter to the police station and got the complaint registered.

Medical report has not yet confirmed the rape, he said adding that probe into the matter was on.

(Agencies)

#India- Women with Disabilities submit to Justice Verma #Rape #Vaw #Law #disability


 

January 4, 2013

Justice J.S. Verma

New Delhi

 

Sir,

 

Suggestions to the Committee

From the Perspective of Women with Disabilities

 

We the representatives of various organisations representing persons with disabilities while welcoming the setting up of this committee under your chairmanship are concerned over its limited terms of reference. It would have been better if the terms of reference of the committee had been much broader and not limited to two issues.

 

In the event, we would like to place before the Committee certain suggestions from the perspective of women with disabilities.

 

During the course of the last couple of years there has been an increase in the number of cases of sexual assault on girls and women with disabilities. Despite the increasing number of incidents being reported, sexual assaults and violence against women with disabilities continue to remain underreported.

 

Girls and women with disabilities are more vulnerable to exploitation. They are considered as soft targets with the perpetrators assuming that they can get away easily. In many cases such women are unable to comprehend or communicate about such acts of violence or assault they face.  Some reports suggest that they are upto three times more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse as compared to other women.

 

In many cases they are not taken seriously either by the police or the judicial system. Their difficulty in expressing themselves compounds matters even further.

 

India ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 6 of the Convention mandates that the country make specific provisions to end discrimination and violence faced by women with disabilities.

 

Further, Article 16 of the UNCRPD under the head “Freedom from Exploitation, Violence and Abuse” mandates that:

 

“1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects.

 

“2. States Parties shall also take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse by ensuring, inter alia, appropriate forms of gender and age-sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers, including through the provision of information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances of exploitation, violence and abuse. States Parties shall ensure that protection services are age, gender and disability-sensitive.

 

“3. In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.

 

“4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse, including through the provision of protection services. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment that fosters the health, welfare, self-respect, dignity and autonomy of the person and takes into account gender and age-specific needs.

 

“5. States Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.”

 

There is an urgent necessity for laws in the country to be amended to provide for these and harmonise them with the UNCRPD.

 

Compilation of Data

 

Unfortunately, there are no consolidated figures with regard to violence against women with disabilities. But the magnitude and scale of the attacks can be gauged by the fact that in the year 2012 alone there have been dozens of cases of sexual violence on women with disabilities reported in media from the state of West Bengal alone. Despite this high incidence, no attempt has been made to even map the magnitude of the problem. Consequently, neither the NCRB nor any other source has authentic figures.

 

It would therefore be pertinent that when such cases are registered, crimes against women with disabilities be also recorded as a sub-category like in the case of crimes against women from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes etc.

 

Provide Adequate

Support to Victims

 

A team from the National Commission for Women visited West Bengal on April 3 and 4, 2012 in the wake of reports of increasing attacks against women with disabilities. It had made the following recommendations:

 

“We would like to recommend that the requirements of persons with special needs have to be kept in mind by all police stations and medical establishments so that they are provided with handholding support including services of interpreters, readers, professionals, psychologists and NGOs depending on the nature of the case. A panel of experts for this purpose can be prepared for each district in consultation with the Disabilities Commissioner and the WCD Department”

 

It would also be pertinent here to look into the rules framed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.

 

Rules framed under this Act mandate that:

 

(1) In each district, the DCPU shall maintain a register with names, addresses and other contact details of interpreters, translators and special educators for the purposes of the Act, and this register shall be made available to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (hereafter referred to as “SJPU”), local police, magistrate or Special Court, as and when required.

 

(2) The qualifications and experience of the interpreters, translators, Special educators, and experts, engaged for the purposes of sub-section (4) of section 19, sub-sections (3) and (4) of section 26 and section 38 of the Act, shall be as indicated in these rules.

 

(3) Where an interpreter, translator, or Special educator is engaged, otherwise than from the list maintained by the DCPU under sub-rule (1), the requirements prescribed under sub-rules (4) and (5) of this rule may be relaxed on evidence of relevant experience or formal education or training or demonstrated proof of fluency in the relevant languages by the interpreter, translator, or special educator, subject to the satisfaction of the DCPU, Special Court or other authority concerned.

 

(4) Interpreters and translators engaged under sub-rule (1) should have functional familiarity with language spoken by the child as well as the official language of the state, either by virtue of such language being his mother tongue or medium of instruction at school at least up to primary school level, or by the interpreter or translator having acquired knowledge of such language through his vocation, profession, or residence in the area where that language is spoken.

 

(5) Sign language interpreters, Special educators and experts entered in the register under sub-rule (1) should have relevant qualifications in sign language or special education, or in the case of an expert, in the relevant discipline, from a recognized University or an institution recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India.

 

(6) Payment for the services of an interpreter, translator, Special educator or expert whose name is enrolled in the register maintained under sub-rule (1) or otherwise, shall be made by the State Government from the Fund maintained under section 61 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, or from other funds placed at the disposal of the DCPU, at the rates determined by them, and on receipt of the requisition in such format as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.

 

(7) Any preference expressed by the child at any stage after information is received under sub-section (1) of section 19 of the Act, as to the gender of the interpreter, translator, Special educator, or expert, may be taken into consideration, and where necessary, more than one such person may be engaged in order to facilitate communication with the child.

 

(8) The interpreter, translator, Special educator, expert, or person familiar with the manner of communication of the child engaged to provide services for the purposes of the Act shall be unbiased and impartial and shall disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest. He shall render a complete and accurate interpretation or translation without any additions or omissions, in accordance with section 282 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

 

(9) In proceedings under section 38, the Special Court shall ascertain whether the child speaks the language of the court adequately, and that the engagement of any interpreter, translator, Special educator, expert or other person familiar with the manner of communication of the child, who has been engaged to facilitate communication with the child, does not involve any conflict of interest.

 

(10) Any interpreter, translator, Special educator or expert appointed under the provisions of the Act or its rules shall be bound by the rules of confidentiality, as described under section 127 read with section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

 

It would be in the fitness of things if similar provisions are made for adult women with disabilities who are subjected to sexual abuse.

 

We suggest that concerned Ministries and Departments be directed to issue advisories to police stations, courts, legal services authorities, government hospitals and health centres to provide all the required support including, access to interpreters and social workers to the women with disabilities who approach them.

 

Also there needs to be accountability in the matter of making services of an interpreter/counsellor available to victims.

 

Training Of Police/Judiciary

& Medical Professionals

 

Training/sensitisation of police officers, judiciary and medical professionals on issues concerning persons with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities and the violence they face should be made mandatory.

 

We suggest that there must be Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in place for the police to follow while investigating cases of sexual assault. These SOPs must refer to the specific needs of women with disabilities, at each stage of the investigation and the role of the police during trial.

 

Abuse within Institution

 

A large number of women with disabilities are abused within institutions like hospitals and shelter homes.

 

Apart from sexual abuse, at times in some institutions these women are not clothed properly and are also subjected to verbal abuse. The guidelines issued by the NHRC should be strictly adhered to in such cases.

 

A monitoring and regulatory authority has to be established at the district level consisting of activists and specialists from the district who will have visiting rights and access to these places for regular check ups. Periodic inspection of these institutions by the authority so established should be made mandatory.

 

Counselling and Rehabilitation

 

Policy and legal measures to prevent and reduce violence against women with disabilities and shield them against such abuses by themselves are not enough. Necessary legal aid/help to bring the perpetrators of such crime to justice has to be provided.

 

Victims of such crimes have to be provided with adequate and appropriate counselling facilities. In the case of a victim getting pregnant consequent to sexual abuse, appropriate counselling and options should be offered to the victims.

 

Rehabilitation of such victims is also paramount. Rehabilitation measures should equip the victims with knowledge and skills to be able to engage in productive livelihood.

 

In the annexure appended herewith we have cited certain instances of sexual assaults against women with disabilities to demonstrate the nature of the vulnerabilities faced by women with disabilities and how they have been handled by the existing institutional and legal machinery.

 

We hope that the Committee will consider these issues also seriously as also the wider issues involved.

 

 

Signatory organisations, in alphabetical order:

 

 

  1. Aarth Astha, Delhi
  2. Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
  3. Centre for Care of Tortured Victims, Kolkata
  4. Differently-Abled Welfare Federation, Kerala
  5. Gujarat Viklang Adhikar Manch, Gujarat
  6. Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch, Haryana
  7. Himachal Viklang Adhikar Manch, Himachal Pradesh
  8. Human Rights Law Network, Delhi
  9. Janarth, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  10. Jharkhand Viklang Morcha, Jharkhand
  11. Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota
  12. Lakshwadeep Disabled Association, Lakshwadeep
  13. Manipur Rights for the Disabled, Manipur
  14. Marg, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  15. Mehac Foundation, Delhi
  16. Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani, West Bengal
  17. Platform for Rights of Disabled, Orissa
  18. Point of View, Mumbai
  19. Sangarsha Apang Ani Palak Sangh, Aurangabad
  20. Snehi, Delhi
  21. Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata, West Bengal
  22. Tamilnadu Assn for the Rights of Differently-Abled & Caregivers, Tamilnadu
  23. The Banyan, Tamilnadu
  24. Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh

 

 

Prepared by:

 

National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled

4, Ashoka Road, New Delhi 110 001

Tel. 23369598, 9868768543

 

Annexure

 

 

Certain Instances of Sexual Assaults Against Women With Disabilities Demonstrating The Nature Of The Vulnerabilities

 

Sexual Assault

On a Girl with Intellectual Disability

 

A young girl with intellectual disability was repeatedly raped and abused within Ashreya, a government residential institute in Chandigarh. The girl was an orphan who was raised by the Missionaries of Charity and later shifted to this home. She did not complain at any point of time. The abuse came into light when she was found to be pregnant.

 

The Supreme Court Judgement CIVIL APPEAL NO.5845 OF 2009 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 17985 of 2009) Suchita Srivastava & Anr. …Versus Chandigarh Administration …  observed:

 

“On 16.5.2009, a medical social worker and a staff nurse working at ‘Ashreya’ observed that the victim was showing signs of nausea and had complained about pain in her lower abdomen in addition to disclosing the fact that she had missed her last two menstrual periods. Acting on their own initiative, the medical social worker and the staff nurse conducted a pregnancy test with a urine sample and found it to be positive. Following this development, a medical board consisting of two gynaecologists and a radiologist was constituted on 18.5.2009. The gynaecologists then examined the victim in a clinical environment and concluded that she had been pregnant for 8-10 weeks at the time. The radiologist also confirmed the fact of pregnancy on the basis of an ultrasound examination and recorded a gestation of approximately 9 weeks on the same day.”

 

The girl was unable to comprehend that she was being assaulted. Secondly, she was also unable to identify the perpetrators. This case is being cited to underline the fact that in cases where women with mental illness or intellectual disability are assaulted they are often not able to complain and even their care-givers in some cases are unaware of the abuse they are subjected to.

 

In a case reported from Aurangabad, Maharashtra a few days back, an attempt was made to molest a 29 year old woman with intellectual disability who at the time of the incident was alone in the house. She stays with her brother. The brother was initially reluctant to even lodge a complaint at the Police Station.

 

Sexual Assault

On A Blind Girl

 

Given below is the testimony of a Blind girl at a Public Hearing on Issues affecting Women with Disabilities organised by the Jadavpur University in collaboration with Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata.

 

“I face sexual abuse regularly. I have to commute to college by public bus. I need help of others in crossing roads and even during bus rides. One day I asked a man who was standing at the bus stop to help me to get into the bus. I asked him to hold my hand and then I realised he was touching my body also. I was very nervous – I thought if I protested he will let me go off and I will meet with an accident. You know how crowded buses in Kolkata are. This man kept on touching me in an inappropriate manner inside the bus. But I could not protest. And if I would have said anything, who would have believed? I can not see, so for me to identify him would be difficult. And others would think that he held my hands just to help me board the bus. So would they believe me?

 

“These kinds of incidents happen regularly. I do not know if it happened to any of my friends, I never discussed the same with them. This is something, I think shameful to discuss.”

 

 

Incidents of Rape of

Women with Hearing Impairment

 

Several cases of rape/assault on women with hearing/speech impairment have been reported during the course of the last year.

 

In one such case in February 2012 a hearing impaired girl was raped by a doctor inside the premises of the Bankura Medical College in West Bengal. According to the complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, the resident doctor of the hospital took the victim for medical examination inside his room and raped her. She could not identify the accused in the identification parade as she later told her mother that she was not informed by police or any concerned person what to do when she was taken inside for the same. As she was hearing & speech impaired and illiterate as well, the authorities did not know how to communicate with her.

 

In another case, again from West Bengal a national level Para athlete who had won several medals including at the National Championship in 2006, was on her way back from Raiganj to her house in Hemtabad on June 23, 2012 in an auto-rickshaw.  Taking advantage of the fact that the girl was hearing and speech impaired, the auto-driver took the girl to his house where he raped her. In this case, the girl was able to give a complaint in writing.

 

Assaults within Institutions

The Case of Dulal Smriti Samsad (Hooghly, West Bengal)

 

A young woman’s body was found buried within the compound of a NGO run home, Dulal Smriti Samsad, in July 2012. Investigations found out that Guriya, a destitute woman who was mentally ill, was brought to this home by West Bengal police was subjected to sexual abuse regularly and killed.

 

The incident came to light after one of the villagers staying nearby got wind of it. He informed others and later on the story was picked up by the media.

 

It was found that despite the home being registered under the Persons with Disabilities Act, National Trust Act as well as Juvenile Justice Act, there was no monitoring by any government agency. During investigations it also came to light that several other inmates (most of them were destitute mentally ill or women with intellectual disability) were routinely sexually abused. Men from outside the home, with connivance of officials of the home committed the crime after dusk. Some of the women when interrogated were also able to give names of men who exploited them. Medical examination of some of the victims also revealed signs of regular sexual intercourse. Copper-T was found inserted in the bodies of a few inmates.

 

It is obvious that this abuse and exploitation of hapless women was happening over a period of time, as the victims were unable to express themselves or those who were hearing them did not believe their versions. Even during questioning after the first death was reported, the women were unable to narrate their experience, given their mental condition.

 

 

Sanction pension to mentally challenged person: Madras High Court #good news




CHENNAI : Coming to the rescue of a mentally affected person who was denied disability pension, the Madras High Court has directed the authority to sanction the pension in three months.

Disposing of a writ petition filed on behalf of him, Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar concurred with petitioner’s counsel that the mentally affected individual was also entitled to get ‘Physical Disability Pension.’

The Judge also pointed out that the government had removed income limit for receiving such pension.

The writ petition was filed on behalf of C. Rajamani (46) of Jodukuli village in Salem district by his brother C. Saravanan, contending that Rajamani was denied pension even after authorities had issued Disability Certificate stating that he had mental disability to the extent of 65 per cent.

An application, submitted by him to Special Tahsildar, Social Security Scheme, Omalur, on June 28, 2010 seeking grant of pension, was rejected on the ground that his mother was getting pension and that the applicant had landed property.

M.R. Jothimanian, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the income limit mentioned earlier was removed by the government from the financial year 2010-2011 and therefore the petitioner was entitled to get such pension.
When the petitioner again submitted an application, it was rejected on the ground that being a mentally disabled person, the petitions did not come in the category of ‘Physically Disabled Person.’

The counsel also submitted that the issue was clarified by the Deputy Director of State Commissionerate for Physically Disabled Persons, through his proceedings in 2012 stating that “if a person is mentally disabled, he is also entitled to get Physical Disability Pension.”

The counsel further said that the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 also defines that physical disability includes ‘mental illness’ and therefore, the petitioner was entitled to get ‘Physical Disability Pension’ at the rate of Rs.1,000 per month.

After hearing the submissions, Mr. Justice Paul Vasanthakumar said, “Considering the said submission and having regard to the Certificate issued by the District Disabled Rehabilitation Officer, Salem, and in the light of the order dated June 28, 2010 removing the income limit, the impugned orders cannot be sustained.”

Setting aside the impugned orders, the Judge directed the Special Tahsildar to sanction pension to the petitioner within three months.

The court also permitted Mr. Saravanan to get pension on behalf of him, after getting orders in the Original Petition which was already filed in the District Court, Salem for appointing him as a guardian.

 

source: The hindu

 

#India- Enabling the disabled


 

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA, Frontline

 

The larger struggle of the disability movement is about finding a voice and making it assertive.

In India, it is about pressuring the state to fulfil its social responsibility.

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 

Disability rights activists at a session of the first world congress on community-based rehabilitation held in Agra on November 27. 

FOR Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, the internationally acclaimed disability rights activist from Pakistan, daily life is about unusual struggles. His fight is not just about having a barrier-free environment for all people with disabilities (PwDs); it is also an emotional one, to secure his dignity and self-esteem from the derisive language he has to face all the time and protect himself from the excessively charitable attitudes of people. Nizamani is confined to a wheelchair because of a polio attack that he suffered when he was nine months old.

“Are we disabled just because we need a ramp to move around? Don’t you need staircases to walk up a building? Isn’t that a handicap then?” he asks. The question, of course, is one about exclusion of the disabled people in dominant narratives. It is also about what is considered ‘normal’. And above all, the story of disability rights is about the larger politics of marginalisation.

Just a week before the world was gearing up to celebrate yet another World Disability Day on December 3, Agra, the heritage city in Uttar Pradesh, was the venue of the first international world congress on community-based rehabilitation (CBR) for disabled people, a world-wide project initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Nizamani was among the key speakers and participants at the event, held between November 26 and 28. He was fresh from receiving a prestigious award for his contribution to the disability rights movement at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Congress at Incheon, South Korea, in early November, and his eagerness to interact with delegates from across the world at the Agra congress was understandable. However, he could not make it to the congress in time as he was refused entry into the aircraft for travelling without an escort. Many international airlines insist that disabled people have an escort. Even the information that Nizamani frequently travels alone and that he is a disability rights campaigner did not come to his rescue. “Why should I pay for an escort when I am confident of travelling alone? Shouldn’t the airline make its aircraft and staff disabled-friendly rather than unnecessarily stopping access?” he asks.

The treatment meted out to Nizamani speaks of the discriminatory practices that disabled people face every day. According to the latest estimates by the WHO, around 15 per cent of the world’s population has some form of disability. Some official estimates suggest that there are more than two crore PwDs in India, almost 75 per cent of them living in rural areas in poor conditions. The Agra conference, where more than 1,200 delegates from 72 countries participated, was the first ever organised initiative at the international level to specifically discuss the overall objective of promoting CBR as a global strategy to realise the U.N. convention on the rights of PwDs, which India had signed and ratified in 2008. Internationally, sensitivity towards PwDs has increased over the years, but it is way off the goals that were visualised in the U.N. convention. Whereas countries such as the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries have led by example in making disability issues an integral part of planning, developing countries, including India, are far behind in this respect.

The U.N. convention was a significant departure from the way several states perceived disability. Most nations followed a charity model for ensuring security to the disabled people, implicitly excluding them from the mainstream. However, a global disability movement articulated the concerns of PwDs in terms of human rights and citizenship rights that grant them equal status. The convention was the biggest acknowledgement of the struggle where issues such as social stigma and discrimination, lack of adequate health care and rehabilitation services, and difficulty in access to transport, buildings and information were addressed. CBR was thus put on priority. The issues were articulated not as grants but as rights. Above all, the disability rights movement was about having a barrier-free environment and not merely about improving conditions of PwDs by giving them jobs or putting a ramp in a public building or instituting Braille in public notifications.

Community-based rehabilitation helps to overcome these barriers by making optimal use of local resources not only to improve access to rehabilitation services but also to address the broader needs of people with disabilities, by ensuring participation and enhancing their quality of life,” says Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability at the WHO.

KAMAL NARANG 

VISUALLY CHALLENGED PEOPLE at a rally to demand reservation in jobs and other welfare means on December 3, World Disability Day, in New Delhi. 

Disability in most countries is understood as physical difference from the majority population, more in terms of medical deformity. The meaning of disability is articulated in terminologies that derive their legitimacy from medical sciences. Thus, a disabled person could be either blind or deaf or dumb. However, the Agra conference delineated the subjective experience of a disabled person. In these experiences, the disabled condition as perceived in the world is much more than a medical condition. These experiences are narratives of exclusion from the institutions of society like marriage, education or earning a livelihood or performing human chores that the majority population is accustomed to. Western scholars have written widely about how it is the language and imagery of the citizen, imbued with hegemonic normalcy, that is primarily responsible for the exclusion of the disabled people.

A significant number of disability scholars have sought to emphasise disability as an inherently social phenomenon, something that is politically constructed. They say that disability is the oppressive socialisation of a given form of physiological “impairment”. This understanding culminates in what appears to be natural linkages in the notions of disadvantage and disability. Disability becomes a general category, which refers to the situation of those facing a barrier to normal functioning because of socio-economic and cultural constraints of hegemonic normalcy.

It is for this reason that the disability rights movement is also geared towards altering the understanding of disability. The emphasis is to situate the discourse of disability in normal categories where PwDs are understood in terms of what they can do instead of what they cannot do. It is in this background that the global disability rights movement has termed the coming 10 years as the decade of Incheon strategy, which has called for making these rights real. The 22 RI (Rehabilitation International) World Congress held in Incheon, from October 29 to November 2, advocated increased political participation in decision-making processes and planning. The disability rights movement recognises the need to work in a broader community which not only comprises PwDs but all the vulnerable communities in order to lend the movement a broader political platform. This direction is being understood as the only way forward to sensitise people in a holistic way.

The 10 goals set at the Incheon congress are reducing poverty and enhancing work and employment prospects, promoting participation in political processes, enhancing access to the physical environment, strengthening social protection, expanding early intervention and education of children with disabilities, ensuring gender and women’s empowerment, ensuring disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management, improving the reliability and comparability of disability data, accelerating the ratification and implementation of the U.N. convention, and advancing sub-regional, regional and inter-regional cooperation.

The larger struggle is about finding a voice and making it assertive. In India, therefore, the movement is about pressuring the state to fulfil its social responsibility. The progress of India towards addressing issues of PwDs is much lower that many other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. On paper, there are four laws that ensure security to PwDs. These are the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999; the National Mental Health Act, 1987; the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995; and the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992.

Most of these laws still operate on the charity model and their implementation, as in the case of many other laws, has been dismal. However, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has shown adequate interest in a rights-based law, the draft Bill of which is ready. For the first time in the past 36 years, a separate department has been created in the Indian government to deal with issues relating to PwDs—the Department of Disability under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

However, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (RPDB), 2011, which seeks to replace the 1995 law, is likely to face many bureaucratic hurdles before it is passed in Parliament. “Disability is in both the Central and State lists. The Centre cannot unilaterally pass the Bill before getting the consent of all the States. Until now, the responses from States have been positive. But many States still have to respond,” Stuti Kacker, Secretary of Department of Disability, told Frontline.

The Indian leg of the disability movement, at this stage, is concerned primarily about three demands. First, there has to be one comprehensive rights-based law instead of four different laws and it has to be implemented effectively. Secondly, the Twelfth Five Year Plan should include disability in all the departments instead of having a separate chapter on disability as in previous Plan documents. This demand stands practically fulfilled as pressure from activists has compelled the Planning Commission to include a separate section on disability in all the chapters of the Twelfth Plan. Thirdly, there has to be adequate methods to quantify PwDs and secure them at least minimum social security measures. The Census needs to quantify disabled people in a more organised way and also identify the more vulnerable among them in terms of socio-economic indicators. This demand has been partially met, as for the first time Census 2011 has included seven different types of disabilities in its counting. In a unique experiment, the Madhya Pradesh government has led by example: it has introduced a separate column for disabled people in the service provision forms meant for the rural poor.

The draft Bill was largely welcomed by activists for several of its provisions, such as inclusion of mental disability and tax relief for companies that reserve 5 per cent of their total staff strength for PwDs. However, it also faced criticism as it does not allow for reservation in Group A and B posts. The activists think that the mandatory 3 per cent reservation for the disabled mentioned in the new Bill will fetch them only Group C and D jobs. The other concern is that there is no transition plan for PwDs to access universal and equal education despite the new Bill guaranteeing this. The activists have also accused the government of diluting the punitive measures for violations of the law in the final draft.

Javed Abidi, a prominent disability rights activist and honorary director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, emphasised the need for a strong and comprehensive law. “If there is political will, the Bill will go through. India was the seventh country to ratify the U.N. convention, ahead of countries such as China and the United States.

However, the government did not show any sincerity in meeting those demands. The attitude still remains one of pity. The government should empower the disabled. Even if it funds the non-governmental organisations working for the disabled, it should have strong monitoring systems to ensure that the law benefits PwDs. The NGOs working for the disabled enjoy immunity and non-accountability. Why is this if not for a charitable attitude?”

Despite the successes, the challenges ahead for the global disability movement are manifold. At a time when governments across the world value efficiency more than social responsibilities, material justice alone will not be enough. The larger struggle will have to be one of altering the way disability is perceived by the majoritarian polities. Perhaps, the movement will not remain just about disability but will evolve into a broader fight against the linguistic hegemony that these polities have produced.

The celebrated author Lois Keith once said, “Tomorrow I am going to rewrite the English language. I will discard all those striving ambulist metaphors of power and success. And construct new ways to describe my strength. My new different strength.” Perhaps, these lines indicate that the hope spread by the disability movement will not die.

Live Bites

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 
 

I joined the movement because of my son, who was mentally disabled. His name was Ishwar. He died when he was 23. He would have been 37 now. When you have a child who does not respond in a ‘normal’ way, you come across many different reactions. Some people told me that this one is okay but also to have another child. As a parent, you did not know what to do. You were always forced to answer questions. More than the child, the family faced the discrimination. The doctors would have only one answer: ‘Medically, nothing is possible. He cannot be treated,’ and they close the case. The family of such a child is always forced into social isolation. Bringing Ishwar up was the greatest learning experience I have had. You had to be much more creative. I founded a school in Chennai realising the needs of such children. I am proud to say that my school is the best place in the world. One of my students, Ummul Khair, had cerebral palsy but she finished her school, and then did her graduation and now she is finishing her law degree. ”

Poonam Natarajan,

Chairperson of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities Act

 

* * * 

Live Bites

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 
 

I was a protected child, actually overprotected. I am 30 years old now and almost 30,000 times people have asked me about my condition. But the thing is why do people only go by the physical appearance of a PwD [person with disability]? They always ask me whether I have consulted a doctor. Now I ask them if they have consulted a doctor because they are bald or dark-skinned. When I was in school, every teacher was partial towards me. No one ever asked me whether I did my homework. I never got any punishment because I was disabled. I wanted to be treated like a normal kid. Such overprotectiveness is also a kind of discrimination.”

Abia Akram

Global Coordinator, DPI’s Global Network of Emerging Young Women Leader with Disabilities (EYWLD), Islamabad, Pakistan

 

* * * 

Live Bites

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 
 

I am a social scientist. Yet, people stare at me because I am a dwarf. They see me as a freak. They look at me for a funny photograph. I was teased in school, was called names, and was even told that no woman would marry me.

Twenty years ago, none of the agencies such as the WHO was reaching the disabled people. CBR [community-based rehabilitation] realised that our struggle was not just about rehabilitation but about empowerment, livelihood and community development. We know we have to empower families of the disabled person to be sensitive. Only then we will be fully successful. It really takes the whole community to reach the disabled.

We have to influence policy decisions. We are not asking to grant funds to the disabled. We are talking about equal access. It takes only 1 per cent of the total budget of any public building to make it disabled friendly.

When you train teachers, also train them about disability. Make disability a part of the school and college curriculum so that people start thinking. Sensitisation needs attitudinal changes and it cannot be achieved without such interventions.”

Tom Shakespeare

Member, Disability and Rehabilitation team, World Health Organisation

 

 

Live Bites

 

 

I got the first shock of my life when my father told me that I could no longer remain in my school. That was in class VII, and I was already a school dropout. The principal of the school told my father that they could no longer take care of me as I could not walk and could not even go to the toilet. The school had no provision for ramps; the classrooms were all in the first or second floors; the toilets were completely inaccessible. Was that my fault?

I joined the open school and started helping my father in his business. By the time I was 18, I already had four years of work experience. The Government of India gave me an award in 1998 for being self-employed. It was only then that I came to know about the term ‘disability’. Until then, I had never thought I was disabled. Disability has to be looked at as a condition and not a handicap. You wouldn’t believe but I have even gone on a blind date and the girl never asked what happened to me. Every person has some or other disability. It could be emotional or physical. Some people feel that they are disabled because they are not fair or are obese. But we are always looked at differently. People who are well-behaved feel that we have a sixth sense like thing and others ridicule us. People have to accept diversity because everyone cannot be the same. Social stigma has to go. And the state has to take the initiative. If there can be a successful campaign against polio, why is it not possible with disability?”

Armaan Ali,

Director, Shishu Sarothi, a civil rights organisation in Guwahati.