Ensuring rights of the backward people

Syeda Lutfa Shahana : Superstition surrounding the disability is prevailing in our country. Most of the parents of visually impaired children are not aware what caused visual impairment and the rights of visually impaired children. The disabled people are being deprived of getting necessary health facilities and their other rights are being violated due to the superstition. Disability is not the result of curse. Disability should be regarded as natural. All of us are disabled in some form or the other. Nobody is perfect, all. Disability is part of the human condition. Everyone-women, men and children of all ages, races and ethnicities-will experience a disability some time during his or her lifetime. All of us are disabled at one time or another and in one way or another. In our society, disabled people face challenges because of their physical or mental limitations. But the attitudes of other people may also create barriers. Understanding this social aspect of disability is essential. Why do we underestimate someone’s capabilities? We should not underestimate someone’s capabilities. Negative attitudes can create barriers that result in the exclusion of disabled people from their communities. Disability is no barrier and some disabled people proved it by becoming brilliant leaders in their respective societies. “Lack of proper knowledge about disability as well as rights of disabled people caused misconception among people. Media and community leaders can help eradicate the misconception. Negative attitude towards disabled people may hurt them and hamper their progress. Hence, we all need to play our due role so that the misconception about disability is eradicated and rights of disabled people are established”, said National Federation of the Blind. The disabled children face various problems in our society, including their families, as their needs and rights are frequently overlooked because they experience a double invisibility; of being a child and of being a disabled person. The girl children with impairment face more difficulties as they find it tough to survive. They are abandoned, discriminated, excluded from education, considered unmarriageable and excluded in participation in the society. Many parents are afraid that their children will be ostracized or stigmatized in the community and therefore prefer to keep them at home rather than send them to school. Furthermore, most parents do not know that national policies in Bangladesh require schools to admit all children into their classrooms regardless of the child’s ability. When parents have a blind child, they do not know how to teach that child, support them or if the child is able to work around the house or go to school. As a result, the child often stays in the home with nothing to do and does not know how to bathe themselves, use the toilet or any of these basic skills. According to Child Sight Foundation (CSF), disabled persons are poorest of the poor in every country of the world. Some 97 percent of disabled children in developing countries are without any form of rehabilitation, 98% without any education; they suffer more violence and abuse then other children and are often shut away in institutions, cupboards, sheds and even starved to death. Many parents are unaware about what caused blindness to their dear children. Parents of visually impaired children want to hide their children from the view of outside people and decline to admit them into school in order to avoid public harassment. Hence, the visually impaired children lead a miserable life and finally become burden on their families. The visually impaired children said that their disability don’t create any problem but the negative remarks by others hurt them and create hurdles on their way to day-day activities, CSF said quoting their remarks. Bangladesh Visually Impaired People’s Society said blindness is not a curse and it is a disease like other disease. Many people, including the parents of disabled children, are not aware about it and also not informed about the rights of the disabled children.The disabled children, who get all the necessary facilities and atmosphere, may prosper like all other normal children if their rights are ensured. We should not show negligence to the visually impaired children. Awareness and change of attitude about the visually impaired children can give them a beautiful life. The visually impaired children have equal rights to humanitarian, education, medical treatment and living like all others. When the parents of visually impaired children came to know about the visual impairment of their children, they feel embarrassed and don’t want to disclose it outside and even decline to get them admitted to schools for education. They think that they may face social embarrassment if other people outside their families come to know about the visual impairment of their children. This kind of attitude of the parents complicated the problems and made the life of children more miserable.A country cannot fully be developed keeping a section of population neglected. The disabled children have rights and all should come forward to help establish their rights. Disability expert Prof. Dr. Mohammad Muhit, Founder President of CSF, said, “we should work with blind children, their families, community members, service providers and program planners to ensure that no child in Bangladesh is blind from potentially preventable and treatable causes and all incurably blind children and their families have access to education, rehabilitation, recreation, self help and equal participation in the society and its development”. A society cannot be called just and developed unless its all people, including the disabled, are brought into the mainstream of national development. So, it is urgently needed to take steps for ensuring the rights of backward people. We aim to eliminate avoidable childhood blindness and to create an inclusive, right-based and barrier free society for children with unavoidable blindness and vision related disability. We also aim to achieve the goals of vision 2020 and Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Kamal Hossain, chairman of the National Federation of the Blind said, “We should take steps to increase awareness to promote an inclusive environment and to demonstrate the capability of visually impaired children. We should support a rights-based society for children who are disabled and eliminate avoidable causes of childhood disability in Bangladesh and expand and improve services for children and their families in need”. We should work to ensure that no child in Bangladesh is disabled from potentially preventable or treatable/remediable causes (biological and social) and ensure access to education, rehabilitation, recreation, self-help and equal participation in the society and its development for children’s with disabilities. We should empower children with disabilities, their families and community members. Visually impaired children should be brought under inclusive education, they need proper rehabilitation along with access to employment facilities for the overall development of the visually impaired people. We should work at community, household, district and national level to distribute key messages to reduce the stigma and prejudice surrounding blind and visual impairment, change public opinion, publicise the rights of the children and draw attention to existing national policies on inclusive education for the blind children. We should distribute information and messages about the disability and the rights of the disabled. The disabled children, who get all the necessary facilities and atmosphere, may prosper like all other normal children if their rights are ensured. We should not show negligence to the visually impaired children. Our constitution provided equal opportunities for all citizens. We need to establish such a society where everyone can live with equal rights and dignity. (Syeda Lutfa Shahana is a journalist)