Tag Archive for Disabled women India

Rohtak rape and murder: Protest meeting for disabled rights in Delhi


By Team FI

The Delhi Viklang Adhikar Manch, an affiliate of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has called for a protest meeting condemning the rape and murder of a young Nepalese disabled woman and the rising number of cases against disabled women in the country.

The protest is to be held in front of the Haryana Bhawan, New Delhi on February 13 at 10.00 a.m. The organisation appealed to the disabled community in Delhi “to join this protest and send out a clear warning that such incidents will not be tolerated.”

According to the information gathered by a six member team from the NPRD who visited the family of the young Nepalese woman, the victim had come to Rohtak to visit her sister. Though the family registered a missing persons report a few hours after she went missing, the local police did not investigate the matter, instead they asked the family to search for her on their own. The body of the young woman was found three days later.

“The nature of the injuries and violence inflicted on the woman reveals the perverted and dastardly mentality of the perpetrators,” reported the press statement put out by the NPRD. The statement also accused that “Had the police acted swiftly in trying to trace the missing lady immediately after the family lodged a missing person’s complaint, it was likely that this tragic incident could have been avoided.”

Protests were organised at Rohtak, Jind and Kaithal by the NRPD and its affiliates in Haryana. The Haryana police have arrested eight persons who have reportedly confessed to the crime.

Press statement from NPRD:

The Executive Committee of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) condemns the brutal rape and murder of a woman with a mental disability in Rohtak district of Haryana. The badly mutilated body of the woman who went missing on February 1 was found two days back. Had the police acted swiftly in trying to trace the missing lady immediately after the family lodged a missing person’s complaint, it was likely that this tragic incident could have been avoided.

Apart from the heinous crime of rape, what is even more shocking is the nature of the injuries and violence inflicted on the woman, revealing the perverted and dastardly mentality of the perpetrators. Even while a crime of this nature on any woman is unpardonable, the fact that the woman had a mental disability made her more vulnerable, a condition that was taken advantage of by the criminals.

Volunteers of the Haryana affiliate of the NPRD, Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch, joined the protests yesterday at Rohtak along with other organisations. They also independently held protests at Jind and Kaithal. A NPRD delegation will be meeting the victim’s family tomorrow to express solidarity in its fight for justice

Differently abled voters’ rights: Activists demand apology from Election Commission


Do the voting rights of Indian citizens depend on their different abilities – whether mobility or sight? Asks angry activists in a letter addressed to the Election Commission of India

By Team FI

Inaccessible booths, lack of facilities for wheelchair users, the absence of braille stickers for the visually impaired and lack of support from the staff at the voting booths had created a humiliating and despairing situation for many differently abled voters who could not use their democratic right to cast their vote in the Delhi elections held recently.

Protesting against this, citizens and activists in a letter to the Election Commission (EC) of India have called for a public, written apology from the EC and the Cheif Electoral Officer, Delhi, to the differently abled voters in the capital of the country. And with written assurances, provide facilities for the visually impaired and wheelchair bound citizens, with the information about these facilities to be publicized thoroughly through every media.

Full text of the Letter
Even as Delhi hails an impressive voter out and calls it a ‘historic’ poll, the truth is that wheel chair users or visually impaired voters were effectively sought to be disenfranchised in this election. This is not only a matter of deep shame but a complete violation of Supreme Court orders.

Just a day before Delhi went to polls we marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3rd 2013. This was an occasion to renew our commitments to full inclusion and access, yet one day later India and Delhi violated this very promise.

We would like to remind the nation and the Election Commission of India that Delhi has 80,000 disabled voters. Yet, there was no information in print, television or radio on facilities for visually impaired voters or wheel chair users. Moreover, the website of Election Commission of India remains inaccessible to visually impaired persons. Do the voting rights of Indian citizens depend on their different abilities – whether mobility or sight?

Given below are a few examples of what has clearly been a widespread violation of the rights of differently abled voters across Delhi:

• West Rajouri Garden Polling booth number 138 had no ramps for wheelchairs and no braille stickers.
Dr. Anita Ghai, who uses a wheel chair could not reach the booth, but because she stood there protesting, she was lifted by the NDTV team as well as authorities and taken to the booth. The desire and determination was simply to vote, because to not vote would go against her democratic and feminist principles.

• Mr. Virender Kalra, a bank manager and a resident of Subhash Nagar, found there was no ramp for his wheelchair, so he got two persons to lift him and take him inside the polling booth.

• Polling booths number 11, 12,13, 14 in Rajokri had no ramps and braille stickers.

• Polling booth 13 in Rajokri had 7 stairs, again with no ramps.

• Abha Khetrapal , a wheelchair user could not cast her vote.

• Shivani Gupta (Booth no. 23 in 45 Mehrauli) could not cast her vote. She described her experience – ‘Yesterday I went to cast my vote for the Delhi assembly elections. This was the third time I had gone to cast my vote, but in terms of accessibility nothing had improved in so many years except there was a ramp. Having a ramp alone is not a solution to enable persons using wheelchairs to vote. I wasn’t able to cast my vote in spite of this ramp for the reasons described below. 1) The route to reach the ramp was inaccessible. It was a long uneven route difficult to negotiate for a wheelchair user. 2) The entry gate to the school had only the wicket gate open with a baton in the bottom at the height of 8 cm restricting wheelchair access. 3) The security did not have the key to be able to open the main gate. 4) The voting room entrance doors had wooden poles to divide the way to enter and exit the room. This division made the clear space to enter or exit the room very narrow for a wheelchair user to pass.

• Neeru Gautam, tried to cast her vote by taking her power chair all the way to the polling station in Block 26 Community Centre. She realised there was no ramp to enter and the entrance to the room was also blocked by a wooden pole which had been placed in the middle of the passage to segregate the incoming and leaving voters. She asked the election staff to come out and help her cast her vote. But despite repeated pleas, no one came forward. Then one person offered to lift her physically, which she refused as she felt it was humiliating and undignified, and came back without casting her vote.

For a person using a wheel chair, being physically lifted in this manner is deeply humiliating. And yet, many disabled voters, like Mr. Kalra and Dr. Anita Ghai, subjected themselves to this humiliation, as a determined act of citizenship, to make their voice count in our democracy. Others, similarly placed, did not or could not.

In the case of Dr. Anita Ghai, there was proof of this violation, merely because an NDTV camera crew, which had gone to cover a celebrity voting, coincidentally happened to be present at the time that she was trying to cast her vote, and so Dr. Anita Ghai was allowed, albeit in a humiliating manner, to exercise her franchise. In other instances, there is oftentimes no ‘proof’ that is demanded by the system, before it accepts or corrects its failures.

We must worry that if this is the situation in the nation’s capital, how grave the situation will be elsewhere, across the country, in smaller towns and cities and in rural areas.

The Election Commission is duty bound to ensure that each and every citizen can cast his or her vote. They ought to have implemented full access to differently abled citizens to polling booths and publicized them.

We demand:
The Election Commission of India and the Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi issue an immediate written and public apology to all differently abled voters who were unable to cast their vote in the Delhi election due to lack of facilities enabling them to do so.

The Election Commission of India to issue orders, and give written assurances that all facilities for the visually impaired and wheel chair bound citizens shall be provided in future elections across India. Further, that such facilities shall be duly publicized through the print and electronic media.

Women’s Day: Women with disability march for justice

women with disability march India 1

By  Kamayani Bali Mahabal

The city of Mumbai today got together to pay a unique tribute to the spirit of womanhood on the eve of International Women’s Day as it came out in large numbers to support the cause of women with disability.

It was a sight Mumbai had perhaps never seen. Over 100 women on wheelchairs were joined by more than 500 other Mumbaikars – common people, socialites, celebrities, activists etc., in a solidarity protest organised by the ADAPT Rights Group– Able Disable All People Together (formerly Spastics Society of India).

What sparked the protest was the offloading of a teacher and disability activist, Jeeja Ghosh (who has cerebral palsy) on the 20th of February, from a SpiceJet flight. Ironically, she was on her way to attend a conference on inclusion of people with disability into mainstream society. Two days later, another woman, Anjlee Agarwal (with muscular dystrophy) was also thrown off a Jet Airways flight.

“There can be no true independence for women as long as people don’t have the right to travel. Jeeja Ghosh’s case clearly shows the pathetic, apartheid like condition women with disability face in India. How can we celebrate Women’s Day when this is happening to almost 15% Indians who have some or the other form of disability,” said Malini Chib, Chairman, ADAPT Rights Group .

photos by Nicholas

Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson – ADAPT, explained the need for the solidarity protest, “It is shocking that women with disability – be they with hearing, visual or physical impairment – are left out of almost everything, including women’s movements. Hence, a lot of violence goes on with them without anything ever being done against it. So we decided to come out and tell the public how women with disability have been left out.” She added.

Dr. Ketna Mehta, Editor and Associate Dean – Research, Welingkar’s Institute and Founder Trustee of Nina Foundation that works for rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury believes that this kind of awareness of people is very important for a country like India. “What you see here – all of us in wheelchairs – is only a small microcosm of people with disability. A majority of them are indoors and never come out,” she said.

Filmmaker Shyam Benegal, said, “Everyone has some or the other disability, visible or hidden. Yet why is it that we consider people with a visible disability to be so different from us? Why don’t we realise that the idea of ‘normality’ is an arbitrary and meaningless one as no one is totally normal?”

A resolution passed by the ADAPT Rights Group states that exclusion of Women with Disabilities from any organisation is a discrimination against a section of the population and of Article 15 of the Constitution. It was also resolved that in any reservation for women in any institution in the country a Disabled Woman has proportionate representation. We strongly condemn the inhumane and barbaric way Disabled Women are being treated by the Airlines – We want Justice for them from the Government.