Women with severe disabilities including wheelchair users face severe issues of mobility and are forced to live a dependent life. Around one hundred persons facing spinal cord injuries in Jammu and Kashmir, a handful of women get proper rehabilitation services.
Wheelchair users are not getting access to services and face limitations. Wheelchair users have no proper accommodation at public places, government offices, educational institutions, court buildings, hospitals, recreation places, religious places and other places of public importance.
The persons with severe disabilities are facing privacy problems. They have to curtail food and water for avoiding toilet. If they need to use the washrooms they find it difficult to find an accessible or disable friendly washrooms. Thus most of the women wheelchair users avoid the outings and prefer to live a segregated life.
Most of the government offices are operational from huge buildings which are completely inaccessible but full of barriers, hence the most vulnerable sections of the society remains at peripheries without any care and protection.
The persons with severe disabilities have high support medical needs, which include medical items for maintenance of bowel bladder movements, wound management, physical rehabilitation and other therapies for living an active life.
But due to immense poverty in families, lack of awareness and almost no support system to manage life with dignity, has made the persons with disabilities valueless entities and forced to live life within four walls. Their life gets ruined and they remain completely excluded without appropriate care and support. Sometimes they feel they are waiting for the death.
Women with disabilities during risky situations and disasters
The life of women with disabilities becomes hard and miserable during the risky and disaster situations. Most of the times these women have to ask others for help, thus problems of privacy.
During risky situations or conflicts, the women with disabilities get their requirements fulfilled through people in neighborhood or relatives.
Some are dependent on psychiatry drugs and don’t want to share the same with others but during conflict and risky situation most of the women with disabilities share their requirements, including the withdrawal of money through ATMs with others and get the requirements fulfilled.
These requirements include the purchase of personal hygiene kits also. Many women with disabilities become victims of abuse and exploitation during risky situations.
During disasters like floods, fire, volcanic eruptions the women with disabilities if displaced are accommodated where their privacy is compromised. There is no separate cabin for such women who have high support needs and require nursing care.
Sometimes their aids and appliances are lost and these women have to face odds without these aids and appliances and wait till new ones are purchased or arranged. These situations could be made easier if the disaster management processes are designed inclusive and the places designated for displacement will be kept available with such aids and appliances.
Government agencies and nongovernmental organizations provide the help and support during pandemics, disasters and risky situations but the specific requirements of women with disabilities are not considered.
1. Women with disabilities should be counted apart from general census. So that data is accurate, cross checked and updated from time to time.
2. Government should do proper planning for the overall empowerment of women with disabilities in light of the data.
3. Jammu and Kashmir Government should take effective measures towards Implementation of Rights of Persons with Disabilities ensuring equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation. So that lives of women with disabilities are improved.
4. Government of J&K should maximise the accessibility as per harmonised guidelines issued by the ministry of Urban Development Government of India, in educational institutions, hospitals, court buildings, shopping malls, banking institutions, ATMs, government offices, recreation places, sports infrastructure, all places of public importance, so that women with disabilities use all such facilities on their own.
5. Government and nongovernmental organizations in Jammu and Kashmir should create inclusion in all basic facilities.
6. Government of Jammu and Kashmir should design proper mechanism and specific offices for implementation of existing policies, programmes, entitlements, for women with disabilities.
7. Government and nongovernmental organizations should set up rehabilitation centers in order to rehabilitate women with severe disabilities.
8. The education department should ensure steps towards inclusive education and ensure all facilities including the availability of special educators, accessible teaching learning material, soft books, electronic gadgets and accessible wash rooms and classrooms.
9. There should be support system for women with disabilities homeless persons with disabilities, so that they could live with dignity and do not feel any discrimination and segregation after loss of parental support.
10. All government and private sector initiatives should be inclusive and meant for all. There should be no barriers or hurdles in the policies that segregate women on grounds of disabilities.
11. Standard aids appliances including hearing aids, wheelchairs, sticks, crutches, cochlear implant prosthetic & orthotic support should be of standard type so that exclusion should not happen because of non availability of standard aids and appliances.
12. Women with disabilities should be given full opportunities to participate in all social, economic and political processes.
13. Special courts should be established in light of Rights of persons with disabilities Act 2016, so that cases related to women with disabilities are heard in time and justice is served on fast tract basis as mandated by the RPWD Act 2016.
Lives of women with disabilities are tough and full of miseries. They live a dependent life and are not getting the opportunities to come out of odd conditions. Disability should not be treated as punishment or bad deed.
It is a challenge and its existence in humans and other living creatures is unknown. Hence no one can be segregated or excluded from society on basis of disability or body differences.
Disability can happen to anyone at any time it. It is mostly a natural phenomenon and in some cases accidental or manmade. But rehabilitating women with disabilities is a role for parents, caregivers, social leaders and political leaders. Collective efforts are needed to include women with disabilities and save them from discrimination and exclusion.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.