Physically Challenged but Not Disabled: the Issue of Human Rights

Topics: Disability, Developmental disability, Social model of disability Pages: 5 (1503 words) Published: August 22, 2013
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VOL 20 NO 157 REGD NO DA 1589 | Dhaka, Friday, July 26 2013| ------------------------------------------------- Top of Form  Bottom of Form|
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Physically challenged but not disabled: The issue of human rightsPublished : Friday, 26 July 2013 By defining disability as a problem of medical intervention, individuals, societies and governments avoid the responsibility of addressing the human rights issue writes M S Siddiqui

Everyone is different in respect of his/her colour, gender, ethnicity, size, shape, or anything else but equal in the eye of law. The law by way of constitutional rights treats all citizens alike, including those who are physically impaired.

A psycho-social disability or intellectual disability, may affect the way people think, feel, or process information. Regardless of its characteristics, disability neither subtracts from nor adds to a person's humanity, value or rights. People with disabilities have the same rights as all other people. However, for a number of reasons they often face social, legal and practical barriers in claiming their human rights on an equal basis with others. These reasons commonly stem from misperceptions and negative attitudes toward disability. In most societies disabled people are viewed as helpless, dependent, and hence burdensome as tragic victims of fate.This attitude appears to lack the sensitivity to some of the real issues faced by disabled people. Another major misperception is that people with disabilities need pity from the society. It is much easier for people to offer pity and charity than to address the fear or discomfort the disabled face in running their daily life. 

Needless to say, persons with disabilities often face serious discrimination based on attitudes, perceptions, misunderstandings, and lack of awareness. For example, the misconception that people with disabilities cannot be productive members of the workforce may lead employers to discriminate against job applicants who have disabilities, even if they are perfectly qualified to perform the work. Or, it might mean that the buildings where the jobs are located are not constructed in a way that people with mobility impairments can access them. 

Such limitations can affect other population groups as well. For example, in some societies the attitude toward women prohibits them from owning property or participating in public life. Hizras in our society have no social and property rights. 

In addition to attitudes and perception coming from external sources, the attitude of individuals directly affects the victims in claiming the legitimate rights that they are entitled to. As a result of attitudes from both collective and individual standpoints, the disabled in most cases are led to believe that they are not like the rest of the people around them, that they have a subordinate status in society and worst perhaps, they are dependent on other's pity.

The most significant and widespread myth affecting human rights and disability is the idea that disability is a medical problem that needs to be solved or an illness that needs to be "cured." This notion implies that a person with a disability is somehow "broken" or "sick" and requires fixing or healing. The result of this approach is to strip people with disabilities of the power and responsibility for taking charge of their own lives and asserting their rights on an equal basis with others.

A person with disabilities may require a reasonable accommodation to facilitate his or her activities, such as a wheelchair or more time to accomplish a task. Reasonable accommodation is simply a resource or a measure designed to promote full participation and to empower a person to act on his or her own behalf. This approach is not the same as trying to fix the person or fix the disability in the Medical Model or assuming that people with disabilities...
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