A man in Japan recently went on a killing spree by killing 19 people in their sleep. He killed disabled people believing that they should die, and was arrested for the same thought the previous year. More than the violent attack, the heinousness of his thought startles me.
Should just the fittest, both mentally and physically, survive?
Disability, either natural or acquired, carries with itself a number of superstitions and myths. More specifically, Indian society attaches the concept of ‘karma’ to disabled people. They are the people who are believed to be repenting for their bad deeds in the past life. Therefore, people have prejudices towards persons with disabilities. They are generally tried to be kept away from all major activities in society. Society, often, even attempts to deprive them of their basic right of attaining education and employment.
Such people are at times treated with pity or sympathy, or are unabashedly ridiculed. Disabled people don’t get the indifference they otherwise would get, they are judged and reacted upon. They get stared upon, they are often bullied and are termed as a weak person.
People with disabilities constitute an invisible population. The reasons for this are multiple – lack of access, cultural norms, misinformation, and religious theories.
Even when we are in our offices, do we see anything that aids a disable person? When we were studying in good reputable school, did we see any rafts of any kind that would really help a person in a wheelchair? For enjoying even the basic right of getting an education and employment, an accessible environment is required. In the absence of a disabled friendly infrastructure, it becomes quite tough for a disabled person to continue with his or her education or employment.
Apart from metro, I have never seen anything else that substantiates and eases out the life of a disabled person. Must we go through the same fate to understand the plight and feel the helplessness?
Disabled people not only face structural barriers but also, attitudinal barriers. Usually, the institutions in which disabled people work are not found to be disabled friendly. They are not constructed in a way in which disabled people could either work or move efficiently. Most of the time, they are found to undermine or underestimate the abilities of a disabled person. They are not judged by their abilities but capabilities.
In today’s discourse, people in society talk about gender discrimination. They can be seen talking about caste discrimination. But, rarely does one talk about discrimination against disabled people.
The need of the hour is to make society sensitive towards the needs of disabled individuals. People, at large, must learn that disability isn’t a curse, and such people are no less a person that we are. They must be crippled by their body, why do we have to be crippled in our thoughts and approach?
People must know that true diversity encompasses acceptance, dignity and respect. Disability is not a taboo, it is an acquired plight, either by nature or accident. It’s okay to be disabled, and it’s okay to be different, after all, it’s okay to be a human, isn’t it?