Hard life for the disabledNepal is failing to adequately protect persons with disabilities from discrimination and marginalisation.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says that persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. As per the World Health Organisation and the World Bank’s World Report on Disability, more than 1 billion of the world’s total population have disabilities. The report further argues that the population of young persons with disabilities worldwide ranges from 180 million to 220 million, mainly in developing nations.
There are two main reasons undergirding the stigma of people with disabilities in developing nations like Nepal. First, there is a significant lack of information regarding the causes of disabilities and their resulting characteristics. Second, the notion of including persons with disabilities as fully participating citizens is a curse to the perceptions of many. Despite some improvements, the treatment of persons with disabilities remains discriminatory in many critical areas. For example, public education systems have consistently underserved and undereducated disabled people throughout the world, mostly in developing countries. Overall, disabled persons have received much less education than their non-disabled peers.
In remote rural Nepal, Dalit (so-called untouchable) parents usually do not send disabled girls to school in order to protect them from discrimination and low expectations and general neglect. Schools are not equipped to give the support required. Dalit girls with intellectual disabilities, especially in rural Nepal, face a triple burden. They are often subjected to inhuman treatment such as untouchability, and, as disabled, they are perceived as objects requiring charity, with seemingly no rights.
People with disabilities, especially women with severe disabilities living in remote rural areas are among the poorest segments of the population; they are highly marginalised and lack access to services. People with disabilities are more likely to experience economic and social disadvantages. In general, women with disabilities experience a higher level of discrimination than men with disabilities.
Statistical studies have shown that unemployment rates among persons with disabilities are drastically higher than rates of unemployment for persons without disabilities. Even in developed countries like the United States of America, only a small percentage of disabled people are employed. Employer prejudices exclude disabled people from jobs. Prejudices operate subtly, sometimes unconsciously, to eliminate disabled job applicants in the application, screening, testing and interviewing processes.
Buildings are inaccessible to many individuals with certain kinds of disabilities. The barriers take a variety of forms such as stairs, escalators, narrow doorways, revolving doors, inaccessible restroom facilities, drinking fountains and light switches that are too high, lack of raised letters and Braille signs, overly sloped or excessively long ramps, and carpeting and floor surfaces that are slippery. Public transport systems frequently deny people with disabilities access to various means of transportation. In Nepal’s context, almost all bus stations are not accessible to wheelchair users. We cannot see buses with lift mechanisms to provide access for persons in wheelchairs.
False attributions that consider psychosocial impairments as the product of supernatural possession have been demonstrated to be particularly significant impediments to accessing mental health care in the Nepali context. This barrier is exacerbated by negative attitudes among health care workers and a dearth of adequate treatment options, which in combination reinforce harmful stereotypes by leaving psychosocial disabilities untreated.
These are the unique challenges that persons with significant disabilities face while exercising voting rights: 1. Stereotypes about disabled peoples’ capabilities and cultural beliefs about the causes of mental disability. 2. Lack of accessible materials on how to vote, such as a guide in simple language. 3. Laws and policies that are not inclusive of persons with disabilities.
Persons with communication disabilities have been experiencing many barriers in the formal court system. For example, deaf persons or persons who are hard of hearing in the criminal justice system are often unable to provide statements or provide accurate statements because of the absence of a skilled interpreter. Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, persons with disabilities, especially women, are experiencing decreased access to health goods and services and negative impacts on their physical and mental health.
On December 13, 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and an associated Optional Protocol. The formulation of the convention has been hailed as a great landmark in the struggle to reframe the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities in terms of human rights. It is regarded as having finally empowered the world’s largest minority to claim their rights, and to participate in international and national affairs on an equal basis with others.
Right to make decisions
Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that persons with disabilities, especially persons with intellectual disabilities and psychosocial disabilities long denied the right to make even basic decisions about their lives, have the same right to make decisions on their personal lives, health care and property as any other citizen. With the convention forging the entry of people with disabilities into all aspects of social, economic, cultural and political lives, the ripple effects of Article 12 will reach processes for personal decision-making, exercising citizenship, managing contracts and informed consent, and executing a myriad of economic and social transactions.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development grants an opportunity for the inclusion of persons with disabilities and other under-represented groups. Also, the 2030 Agenda established the principle of 'leaving no one behind'. In conclusion, for persons with disabilities, in particular, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is of paramount importance. It is foundational to realising self-empowerment and self-determination, and fundamental calls of the disability rights movement. Despite some progress, the government of Nepal is failing to adequately protect persons with disabilities from discrimination and marginalisation as required by the convention.