IN Pakistan people with disabilities remain among the most neglected and socially excluded human in the society. Disable people are discouraged everywhere in the world. In many underdeveloped countries people with disability are untouchable. More than 80% people with disabilities are discriminated at their workplace and are not given jobs due to their disabilities. The General Assembly of the United Nation had declared 1981 as the International Year of the Disabled People with the theme of full participation and equality. The general assembly resolution provided five principals which objective was to improve the condition of disabling, these objectives were (1) Helping them physically and psychologically to adjust surroundings; (2) To provide proper training and assistance to get a job; (3) Encouraging study and research projects to help them; (4) Educating and informing the public of the rights of disabled people; (5) Promoting effective measures for prevention of disability.
Although, in Pakistan people with disabilities are given low wages and ranks and they had no opportunities to move up in the society. People with disabilities are often invisible in different social programmes. People with disabilities are also excluded from social and cultural programmes due to the negative attitude. They often experience discrimination and face barriers in accessing education, employment, health care and transportation. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that between 7 and 10 percent of the world’s population live with disabilities, it can be assumed that between 3.5 and 4.5 million of the world’s population, 35 million persons live with disabilities. The people with disabilities are entitled to the world to exercise their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights on an equal basis with others. The World Bank report stated, “If the person with disability would be given chance in the national economic activities, the high rate of economic poverty can be reduced”. Many people with disability, who see themselves as potential and willing to contribute to family and national economic activities are perceived as being a burden on society. The real issues behind these barriers are sensitive attitudes to the society.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights instrument and treaty which is recognized by United Nations to protect the rights and dignity of the person with disabilities. The member’s states of the CRPD convention should ensure, persons with disabilities will enjoy all rights. If the people with disabilities will be treated equally with the law and will be protected legally by international community. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities promotes, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Pakistan also became a signatory of the (CRPD) on September 25, 2008.
In Pakistani society the disabilities of household members are sensitive and hidden issue. Mental retardation, physical deformities and mental ailments are considered as a stigma for the families due to which the family name is considered at risk. The handicap members of the family, who are suffering from inborn problems such as psychological concerns consider a threat to the family social status. Majority families in the country hide the person with disabilities from others and they feel shy to introduce persons with disability in the society. Some traditional poor families of villages consider disabling persons as a sign of religious symbols; they think the people with disability, are spiritual persons that are sent their families for good blessings, some families consider them curse for their selves. However, they use such people to generate extra income in the shape of “Nazranna”.
In Pakistan the most vulnerable groups that face discrimination are children and women. Children and women with disabilities are suffering from a complete deprivation of their rights. Lack of basic services and rights are violation of human rights. Pakistan passed a law in 1981 for the employment and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. Pakistan announced its first “National Policy on the issue of disability in 2002” which aim to provide work for disabling on different policies such as Health, Labour manpower, Housing and Works, Science and Technology as well as relevant departments and prominent NGOs will be organized to work for the benefit for the persons with disabilities. The National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities was passed in 2006 which aim was to provide equal opportunities for disable persons. These policies were never enacted properly. There is currently no comprehensive legislation for the persons with disabilities which deals to provide remedies for the violation of the rights. They are treated with the law as normal person is. Unfortunately, nothing concrete has been done so far in the country for disable persons.
— The writer is a working lawyer, based in Islamabad.