Law to protect rights of differently-abled persons sought

Published December 4, 2022
Differently-abled students perform at the seminar held in connection with the ‘International Day of Persons With Disabilities’ organised by the Directorate General of Special Education at the National Library in Islamabad on Saturday. — APP
Differently-abled students perform at the seminar held in connection with the ‘International Day of Persons With Disabilities’ organised by the Directorate General of Special Education at the National Library in Islamabad on Saturday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: At a policy dialogue held by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Potohar Mental Health Association (PMHA), activists have called for “robust legal and administrative measures” to ensure the welfare of persons living with disabilities (PLWDs).

Participants called on the government to conduct a countrywide census of PLWDs to ensure that budgetary allocations for their welfare are better targeted.

They also criticised the lack of due representation for PLWDs in legislative and policymaking bodies, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Speakers urged the state and society to look at PLWDs as differently-abled persons rather than ‘disabled’ and called on all human rights defenders to launch an organised movement to compel the state to enact better laws for PLWDs’ welfare and devise effective mechanisms that would help them integrate with the mainstream population, whether at home or in educational institutions, or at hospitals, banks and industries.

Additionally, buildings in the public and private sectors must be made accessible to PLWDs as a matter of policy and practice and their access to digital information should be made easier. Former senator and HRCP council member Farhatullah Babar said that the widespread trend of using derogatory words for PLWDs must be countered.

“Unless both the state and society and state are sensitised, mere legislative and administrative measures will remain to be insufficient,” he said, adding that all political parties should ensure that their manifestoes include clear commitments towards uplifting PLWDs.

Other speakers pointed out that early detection and diagnosis of disabilities would enable early treatment, thereby preventing several disabilities. Women living with disabilities face the double burden of gender and ability.

Attock

Like other parts of the country, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was also observed in Attock on Saturday to create awareness in society about protecting the rights of those who are facing various forms of disabilities.

The theme for the day this year is ‘Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: the role of Innovation in Fuelling an Accessible and Equitable World’. In this connection, an event was held at the Government Razia Sultana School for Blind Students in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare.

During the ceremony, visually impaired students proved that they are not behind in any way and performed naats, speeches and tableaus on stage.

Salma Khatoon, head of the institution, while addressing the ceremony said that the annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.

It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

She added that persons with disabilities, that make 10 to 15 percent of our total population, are a precious asset of this country and if they are provided with better opportunities of education and rehabilitation, they can prove themselves to be productive members of society.

She said the purpose of organising this programme is to highlight that special persons have been blessed with special skills. We need to provide a platform to all skilled special persons where they can portray their skills, she said, adding parents should train visually impaired children like normal children and especially ensure their personality development, mobility and participation in daily routines so that these children become self-reliant and useful members of society.

Chief guest of the event Rashidur Rehman, president of the Attock traders’ association paid tribute to teachers and staff for their efforts.

He urged the public and private sector to provide job opportunities to PLWD as per their capabilities and quota.

Parents of the students also participated in this event and were happy with the performance.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2022

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