#Mumbai- Shot in the arm for autistic pupils #goodnews #disability


Shreya Bhandari, TNN

Mumbai: Two years ago, the state board allowed autistic students to appear for Class X and XII board exams.
After granting various concessions to students with learning disabilities (LD), the state board has decided to permit students to opt for an exam centre closer to their residence. “Our aim has always been to ensure that students’ stress is reduced. We started this option last year where students with autism or learning disabilities could apply to us and ask for an exam centre close to their homes,” said Krishnarao Patil, state board secretary.
“Last year, few parents knew about this measure, but now more students have approached the state board,” he said. He also added that the state board has recently released a circular making it clear that students with autism and LD will be allowed to use calculators in their maths and science board papers (Class X and XII).
The option of changing centres has come in handy for students who need a writer for their exams. “There was some confusion if all students had to take this option but the board has made it clear that only those students who are interested can apply to the board and avail of the facility,” said Fr Francis Swamy, principal of Holy Family High School.
Students appear for SSC English paper
Mumbai:Nearly 3.82 lakh SSC students in Mumbai division appeared for their English paper on Thursday. “Students are slowly settling down well so the number of calls to the helpline has reduced. Very few students call with queries these days,” said Balasaheb Hyalij, a state board helpline counsellor. TNN

 

Judge attacks forced marriage that put disabled woman ‘at risk’ #goodnews


 

A judge has said the forced marriage of a Muslim woman with learning difficulties should be annulled and condemned the “insulated” families who arrange them.

Daily Life: 3rd prize singles: Andrew Biraj, Bangladesh, Reuters. Overcrowded train approaches station, Dhaka, Bangladesh

An overcrowded train approaches station, Dhaka, Bangladesh Photo: Andrew Biraj, Bangladesh, Reuters
Martin Beckford

By , Home Affairs Editor, The Telegraph

5:00PM BST 16 Aug 2012

Mrs Justice Parker also criticised doctors and social workers for failing to raise the alarm when the woman was sent to Bangladesh to be married to a cousin, which allowed him to settle in England.

She said video of the wedding ceremony showed the bride was “almost comatose” and needed help to repeat vows she did not understand, while her relatives had made “false and misleading” statements about her condition.

And the judge brushed aside claims by the woman’s parents that having her marriage annulled would bring shame upon their family, in a case that was even considered at by the Government’s most senior lawyer, the Attorney General.

Mrs Justice Parker said that forcing marriage on someone who lacks mental capacity is a “gross interference” with their dignity and autonomy, particularly as it means having sex and possibly becoming pregnant without being able to consent.

Under the far-reaching powers of the Court of Protection, which can make life-or-death decisions on behalf of those deemed unable to understand them, the judge ruled that the woman’s foreign marriage should not be recognised as valid in England. She also declared it would be in the woman’s “best interests” for a nullity application to be issued.

“The communities where this is likely to happen also need to be told, loud and clear, that if a person, whether male or female, enters into a marriage when they do not have the capacity to understand what marriage is, its nature and duties, or its consequences, or to understand sexual relations, that that marriage may not be recognised, that sexual relations will constitute a criminal offence, and that the courts have the power to intervene.”

According to the recently published judgment, the woman – known only as DD to protect her identity – has a “very significant degree of learning disability” and needs help with almost all daily tasks.

In 2003 she married a cousin in Bangladesh and after two failed attempts he was granted a spousal visa in 2009, allowing him to move in with his wife at her family home in an English town.

“Eventually” the local authority found out about the situation and police obtained a Forced Marriage Protection order, leading to experts giving evidence on her capacity.

The judge said the council has “accepted its failures” while the woman’s GP had not raised concerns despite being asked on at least three occasions about “marriage and pregnancy”.

At a hearing in 2010 the judge ruled, “in the face of very strong resistance” from relatives, that DD lacked the capacity to marry or consent to sex and that it was unlawful for her husband to have intercourse with her.

Evidence was then considered as to whether or not the marriage should be annulled, leading to the latest ruling.

The judge said the woman lived in a “very traditional family” in a “close-knit community” that was not integrated with other Bengalis in the area.

“Her parents are very largely insulated from mainstream English society and are mistrustful of non-Bengalis. They do not communicate well in English: her mother understands and speaks almost none. They are devout Muslims.”

The judge said DD was a “loved and valued member of her family and that her parents are devoted to her”, and that in their culture it is seen as parents’ duty to arrange marriages and find spouses for disabled children.

Her mother, father and husband “begged” the judge not to quash the marriage as “there would be considerable stigma in Bangladesh for them”.

But Mrs Justice Parker insisted the bride “does not have even the most basic understanding of marriage” and she “rejected” her family’s account of how the wedding came about.

She said the union had “exposed her to great risk” and led to family tensions as well as conflict with social services who look after her.

 

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