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Archives for : Disability

Harbhajan Singh slams Jet Airways pilot being racist and abusive to disabled passenger

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Harbhajan Singh said that the incident happened to his friends earlier this month
NEW DELHI: In a series of angry tweets posted today, cricketer Harbhajan Singh brought attention to an alleged incident of racism and assault by an expat pilot from Jet Airways. According to his tweets, the pilot named Bernd Hoesslin racially abused and assaulted two passengers on the flight, one of them being a person with physical disability. The cricketer sought strict action against the pilot as he tweeted PM Modi. “Such things should not be allowed or tolerated in our country,” he said in one of his tweets. The 36-year-old told NDTV that the incident happened to his wife’s friends earlier this month.

Harbhajan Singh also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a tweet, to intervene and ensure strict action is taken against the Jet Airways pilot who allegedly made a racist attack against a passenger.

Harbhajan Singh, not a stranger to racial slurs, tweeted out on Wednesday, reacting strongly to an alleged racist attack on a passenger by a Jet Airways pilot. The former Indian off-spinner has even urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.Harbhajan Singh, who is playing for the Mumbai Indians in the ongoing Indian Premier League and claimed his 200th T20 wicket against Rising Pune Supergiant on Monday, blamed a Jet Airways pilot, Bernd Hoesslin, “of racial and physical attack towards a lady and a physically challenged man”.

Jet Airways have promised to investigate the unsavoury episode.


“So called this Bernd Hoesslin a pilot with @jetairways called my fellow indian(u bloody indian get out of my flight)while he is earning here (Sic),” tweeted Harbhajan Singh from his official handle, @harbhajan_singh.

Harbhajan followed it up with tweets demanding action against the pilot, Bernd Hoesslin.


“Not only was he racist but physically assaulted a lady and abused a physically challenged man..absolutely disgraceful &shame on @jetairways (Sic),” tweeted Harbhajan, who went on to appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and make sure action is taken against the pilot.

Not only was he racist but physically assaulted a lady and abused a physically challenged man..absolutely disgraceful &shame on @jetairways

Strict action must b taken &such things should not be allowed or tolerated in r country.. let’s get together and sort this

Harbhajan Singh was reacting to the incident involving Punjabi and Bollywood music director Jatinder Shah and Bollywood marketing professional Pooja Singh Gujral during the flight from Chandigarh to Mumbai on April 3.

Shah uses a wheelchair that was checked in but the chair never reached him on arrival. The flight was also delayed due to some internal issues of the airlines, wrote Gujral, narrating the incident via a Facebook post.

Extremely shocking n upsetting incident with Jet airways ! Travelled chandigarh-mumbai over the weekend. On arrival a close friend’s customised wheel chair that was checked in as per jet regulations did not reach him. The flight was already delayed because of the airlines internal issues. He was made to wait and i decided to wait along with him! Meanwhile the captain of the aircraft ‘Bernd Hoesslin’ came and started behaving nasty and screaming for checking in his personal wheelchair. I intervened and told him that it is allowed and various times this wheelchair was checked in earlier aswell! Plus #jetairways had checked it in at chandigarh so it was allowed! He got really mad at me and started screaming and pushed my hand saying ‘GET OUT’ ! I moved him aside and warned him not to touch me ! He said ‘u bloody indian’ and thats when i gave him hell. My friend who is specially challenged intervened to help but he was nasty and rude to him too. I told him to call the security but the staff did not ! Although then the crew intervened and apologised and said captain pls stop but this horrible person just did not ! I finally helped my friend and put him on the wheelchair as he was because of this situation very embarrassed and not felling well. I have complained to the guest relations head and awaiting a reply ! I DO DEMAND AN ACTION AGAINST THIS CAPTAIN ! Racism in my own country is bad but discrimination against the physically challenged is so inhumane, barbaric and atrocious. An extremely appalling, sad and grievous experience! Plz share the post

Shah was made to wait in the aeroplane and Pooja decided to remain with him. The pilot of the flight , Bernd Hoesslin , then stormed out of the cockpit and started hurling abuses at Shah and Pooja. Pooja wrote on her FB post that the pilot shouted “You Bloody Indian”, and mocked Shah for his disability while she was trying to “explain the situation”.


A complaint was lodged on April 4 at the Sahar International Airport police station. Gujral also mentioned in one of the comments on her FB post that on 5th April she filed a non cognisable complaint because police refused to file an FIR.

Jet Airways statement

Jet Airways said in a statement that corrective action will be taken as per the company policy, and after due investigation.

“Jet Airways has zero tolerance towards any action of its employees that contravenes local or international laws prevalent in the countries of its operations,” read the statement. “Additionally, we have a strict employee code of conduct, which is based on the values and ethos of the airline. This is clearly mentioned in the prescribed service conditions for employees and is adequately emphasized during internal training sessions. All airline employees/staff members are required to comply with company’s rules and regulations and with the customs and security laws of the countries that Jet Airways’ flies to.

“As regards the said incident, Jet Airways has noted guest feedback with concern and regrets the incident. The airline has as per policy initiated a full-fledged investigations, based on specific inputs from guests, concerned departments and agencies.”

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What govt needs to do to make Rights of Persons with Disability Act work

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It falls short on the vision to acknowledge and empower the disabled so they can sail through the challenges themselves.


“A human being is a magnificent creation and the magnificence must reflect in a humane, magnanimous, and all-inclusive manner so that every individual tends to feel that she/he deserves space,” as observed by the Supreme Court in the Pranay Kumar Podder vs State of Tripura and Others case in 2017.

There is potential progress on the horizon as inclusion, integration and phrases that would define their essence are discussed zealously, but what portends horror is that it is still left to choice – that it is not the practice.

Policymakers say let’s change the rules, activists say let’s change the mindset, politicians say let’s treat “them” as “Divine”, courts say let’s be magnanimous and civil society says let’s earn favours from God – all this haggle is for accepting the “other”.

The “other” who is not identified but made conspicuous by identifying oneself as “able”, “complete”, “blessed” et al.

Though the term is not convincingly conceptualised, the disabled have regretfully become the foil that bolsters the design that defines a fully-functional human being. This has made them second-class citizens in public perception whose rights and necessities have to be spelt out by invoking sections of rulebooks that turn futile to execute equity and justice.

How far can a booklet of law make any difference? Will rights mean acceptance? How much can a list of provisions do to redeem the rights and the respect of the 2.68 crore disabled in India?

Will such outcry lead to inclusion and universality?

The Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 was passed by the lawmakers at the end of a forgettable winter Parliament session, which was inundated by the torrent of acrimony post- demonetisation.

But the Act brought cheer to many as it increased the number of identified disabilities from 7 to 21, and the employment reservation to not less than 4 per cent, as well as included inclusive education, penalties for offences against the persons with disabilities (PWDs), Special Courts, National and State Funds, et al.

The Act has been acknowledged by experts for espousing the progress of the disabled population and for its noteworthy shift from a concessional model to a social one. The inclusion of acid attack victims, learning disability, Parkinson’s, blood disorders, speech and language disability et al are perfect examples of the inclusive undertone sustained throughout the Act.

The emphasis on reasonable accommodation, accessibility, inclusive education, employment security, research and surveys, proactive measures to contain disability, protection against violence, legal guardianship, rights to appeal et al are commendable provisions.

They look attractive and empowering on paper, but carry ambiguities that can be twisted and distorted to meet selfish interests.

blindsmal_0216171205_042417054942.jpgVision is where the Act leaves a lot to be desired. Photo: Screengrab

For instance, recurring clauses like “within the limits of economic capacity and development”, “without undue and inappropriate burden”, “the extension of time based on the state of preparedness and related parameters”, “cannot be discriminated unless the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” et al leave ample room for denial of justice.

This also leads to empowerment remaining elusive and reliant on the interests of the “able-bodied”. Many new appointments and the strengthening of office proposed in the Act are also devoid of providing absolute justice.

The chief commissioner’s position remains limited to recommending, reviewing, monitoring, promoting and learning.

The state commissioner’s powers, on the other hand, are equivalent to those of a civil court. She/he can summon witness, requisition public record, receive evidence, issue commissions for examination et al. There seems to be no authority that can try an accused or pass verdicts.

In case of violence, the Executive Magistrate is the authority to be sought, while employment-related discrimination can be conveyed to a Grievance Redressal Officer and there is a Liaison Officer to check on recruitment – all of it remains within the purview of the Chief Commissioner, whose powers are quasi-judicial.

Another glaring and minimally-covered area is the amount of power exercised in private establishments. The private sector appears under the surveillance of the Act.

Except in contexts of barrier-free access at private hospitals, among service providers, incentives in the case of employing at least not less than five per cent disabled and an equal opportunity policy, the Act seems hardly persuasive.

This is evident in the Draft Rules that came out, first on March 3, 2017, where an exclusive framework for private sector was mentioned and the revised Draft Rules that came out on March 10, 2017, where there is no mention of the private establishment in the chapter on Equal Opportunity Policy.

This keeps the authority that the Act wields on the private sector within shadows. One would agree to disagree on many other provisions – most of these are liable to failures and those which twisted arguments can overthrow.

It is hardly airtight to cross-examination and thus can’t be manoeuvred easily by a disabled person.

While the Act is surely an attempt for progress and inclusion, it falls short on the vision to acknowledge and empower the disabled so they can sail through the challenges themselves.

When the bourgeoisie took control of the society – visibly for the first time in history post revolutions extending the period of 1789 to 1848 – it was believed that they would not only spawn material but also reason, human opportunities, enlightenment, science and arts.

In a nutshell, a world of accelerating material and moral progress was the vision. But what has come of the attempts to fulfil it since then is simply “survival of the fittest” with “fittest” having connotations ranging from ignorance to moral depravity.

In such a world where opportunities are the charity of the fittest, “vision” is a strong word, perhaps even abstract to the status quo.

Even if “vision” is deciphered, it would not disturb their own guaranteed social order or threaten their own existence. All we can hope for is a future that would be “magnanimous” and accept the “magnificence of creation”.

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Simply Nanju is a poignant book to help children understand #disability

Zainab Suleiman’s writing stems from her work with different NGOs and special schools.


The motley crew of Nanju and his classmates have to be some of the most adorable characters in children’s literature in the recent past. Zainab Sulaiman’s Simply Nanju starts with the ten-year-old boy poking his head out of a bathroom stall, worried that someone will find out that he’s soiled his school shorts once again.

Nanju was born with a spinal defect and as a result, he is relentlessly teased about his crooked walk. Nanju, we discover, has pressing concerns that demand his immediate attention at his school, where other children are also differently abled. His classmates suspect him of stealing the topper’s books, there’s a bully to contend with, and on top of that, his father is constantly threatening to send him off to a hostel far away. What follows is a mystery and a school story rolled into one, with everyday heroes as protagonists.

Sulaiman first wrote a grain of the story at a Duckbill writing workshop. “Zainab was one of the participants in a Duckbill workshop in Chennai, where one of the group exercises she had done was a detective story set in a school for kids with special needs,” said Sayoni Basu, director and primary platypus at Duckbill Books. “Afterwards, discussing what she wanted to write, she said that she worked as a special educator and she wanted to write about some of the kids she worked with. Which we thought was a wonderful idea.”

Sulaiman’s book stems from her work – she has been teaching, fund-raising and volunteering with different NGOs and special schools. “I’d been working as a volunteer teacher at an integrated school and everyday I’d practically float out of there, high on the energy generated by a bunch of kids who lived life to the hilt in spite of many of them being severely disabled,” said Sulaiman.

“I began to scribble down things I’d heard, make notes on the hard life many of these kids lived without any display of complaint or self-pity, and mainly how it all made me feel: angry, sad, amazed, overwhelmed. And that’s when I realised I had to write about this world.”

sn_041816084942.jpgSimply Nanju; Duckbill Books; Rs 199.

Simply Nanju joins an array of books that help children understand disability. Tulika Books has also published a range of picture books – Why are You Afraid to Hold my Hand? by Sheila Dhar is about attitudes and how people react to someone who is differently-abled, Wings to Fly by Sowmya Rajendran and Arun Kumar where little Malathi finds that she can do a “much, much more” even though she’s wheelchair-bound, and in Tharini Viswanath and Nancy Raj’s tale Catch that Cat!, Nancy doesn’t let her being in a wheelchair stop her from helping a cat stranded on a tree.

Karadi Tales, with its audio book format, is often used as an educational tool for children with learning disabilities. Few years ago, Shaili Sathyu directed Barsoraam Dhadaake Se, a play that was an adaptation of Kalpana Swaminathan‘s story, Bangles for Bansode. The cranky old landlord, Bansode, finds that his life changes for the better when a wheelchair-bound girl comes to live in the building.

Stories like these go a long way in creating inclusive spaces, making children comfortable with diversity, and accepting of the fact that everyone is different in their own way.

Sulaiman’s characters come in all shapes, sizes, and shades of blacks, whites, greys, reds, blues and all sorts of happy and gloomy colours. Nanju’s friend, Mahesh, for instance, is really intelligent and uses logic to solve problems. Nanju himself is not all angelic – he’s quick to judge and can be quite sharp at times.

Sulaiman paints a poignant childhood, full of that sense of inadequacy and that particular sinking feeling when you get poor marks. It’s a familiar world of favourite and not-so-favourite teachers, ever-shifting rivalries and fast friendships and shiny compass boxes and new backpacks. All of this in the backdrop of challenges of social inequality and abuse. Not an easy task.

“It was hard,” said Sulaiman. “I was torn between writing a really hard-hitting book which showed how relentless the double whammy of poverty and disability can be, and writing about how inspite of all their hardships, these children really live for the day and are determined to extract every last ounce of joy from it. I choose the latter as I thought it was important for people to realise that it’s us who need to change, and maybe we could change if we realised how much these kids are like us.”

Stories like these are distinctive in the sense of being representative and going beyond the upper middle-class protagonists often seen in children’s books. “Urban kids live largely in middle-class ghettos, where they have little interaction with anyone outside their immediate social group, in a world which regards the ‘other’ with suspicion,” said Basu. “It is, therefore, all the more important that they read about Indian kids who live very different lives, since it is through fiction that we develop empathy and understanding of worlds which are different from our daily experience.”

Duckbill, over the last few years, have definitely hopped (or do platypus’ waddle?) off the beaten path. Rather than the usual lineup of authors and mythological stories, their books have LGBT themes, swashbuckling historical heroines, and differently abled heroes. Their writing workshops have helped them find new and exciting writing as well.

“Our goal has always been to publish books that reflect the contemporary world that Indian children and young adults live in,” said Basu. “And ideally, the books should be funny and wacky.” Simply Nanju checks the boxes.

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India -UP Minister Could Become First to Be Tried Under New Disability Law

Satyadev Pachauri had insulted a Class IV employee over his disability. If convicted, he faces a six month to five-year prison term.

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UP minister Satyadev Pachauri. Credit: PTI

UP minister Satyadev Pachauri. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A complaint against a minister in the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, who had publicly ridiculed a disabled employee during a surprise visit to an office in Lucknow, could become the first to be covered by the new disability law, which came into effect on Thursday (April 20).

In his complaint to the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Lucknow, under Section 92(a) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016, Delhi-based disability rights activist Satendra Singh has said that Satyadev Pachauri, minister of khadi, village industries and MSMEs, had humiliated and insulted a Class IV employee during a surprise visit on April 19. Section 92 of clearly lays down that “whoever intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view” shall be “punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine”.

Singh, an associate professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences and Delhi’s GTB Hospital, said the incident reportedly took place at about 9:40 a.m. in the Khadi and Village Industries Board office in Lucknow. The incident, Singh said, was widely reported in the local media and was also shown on private TV news channels.

During his visit to the office, Pachauri found nearly a third of all employees missing despite it being office hours having started. He then ordered that a day’s salary be cut of all those who were missing. Thereafter, he began counting the number of staff present there.

During the count, Singh complained, the minister kept asking the employees about their post and time of arrival. When he reached a Class IV employee, who is also a person with disabilities, Pachauri reportedly asked him: “What are you?,” to which the man replied that he was a sanitation worker. Pachauri then asked him if he was a contractual employee. When the employee answered in the affirmative, the minister looked at him from top to bottom and then turning towards the chief executive officer and said: “Lulay langdon ko samvida par rakh liya hai, yeh kya kaam karega” (You have kept those suffering from disability of the limbs on contract, what work will he do).

After the minister’s comment those present in the room began laughing at the employee, Singh said. The employee was visible disturbed.

Singh said Pachauri’s statement was in violation of the new Act. Incidentally, the Narendra Modi government had coined the term ‘divyang‘ in an apparent attempt to show respect to persons with disabilities, but Pachauri’s tone and tenor shows that more than terminology it is the thinking and approach that needs to change.

“Our prime minister sees divinity in persons with disabilities and therefore he uses the word ‘divyang’. The Adityanath government, which proclaims ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas‘ has this kind of a minister who is a blot on the slogan,” Singh said. He added that since a minister is involved in such an incident he must be punished appropriately so that the right message is sent to the masses.

Singh also pointed out that the incident occurred in Lucknow in the same month when a person with disability was elected president in another country. Lenin Moreno, who is a wheelchair user, was elected president of Ecuador on April 2. “Unity and social justice were the hallmarks of the political journey of Moreno,” Singh said.

Recalling what Moreno words from 2012, Singh said, unity not as a charity but as a symbol of equality was the cornerstone of social inclusion.

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UP Minister, Satyadev Pachuri who insulted disabled should resign


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The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) condemns the humiliating remarks made by U.P’s textile minister, Satyadev Pachuri, against the disabled.

The minister who was on a visit to the Dilbag area of Lucknow mocked a disabled man by using derogatory words.  The Minister not only made insulted the disabled safai karmachari but also questioned his ability to undertake the job given to him.

Apart from the fact that the worker was not being paid the minimum wage, the minister scolded those who had employed the disabled person.

Though the Prime Minister has coined patronizing terms like “divyang” his ardent followers in high positions in the Party and government not only continue to use derogatory terms against persons with disabilities but hold them in utter contempt. The NPRD had always held that mere change of terminology will not change realities on the ground. Mindsets have to change.

Mr. Pachauri needs to be reminded that Section 92 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 provides for a jail term of not less than six months for any person who “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view”. He should be thankful that the Act has still not come into force.

Such a minister who makes fun of an entire community, ridicules persons with disabilities in full public view and holds them in utter contempt has no right to continue in office.



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CM Yogi’s minister caught on camera deriding ‘disabled ‘ worker #WTFnews

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In a shocking incident, UP’s Textile minister Satyadev Pachauri was caught on camera mocking a disabled man by questioning his ability to work due to his disability.

In complete contrast to the call for compassion towards people suffering from disabilities from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a recently sworn-in minister in Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet in Uttar Pradesh has been caught on camera insulting a ‘divyang’ worker – questioning his ability to discharge his responsibility due to his condition.

This comes just days after Yogi Adityanath called for showing respect towards ‘divyangs’ (physically disabled persons).

In a shocking incident, UP’s Textile minister Satyadev Pachauri was caught on camera mocking a disabled man by questioning his ability to work due to his disability.

The video was recorded on a mobile phone camera in Lucknow’s Dilbag area where Pachauri had gone for a surprise inspection.

As shown in the clip, after noticing the specially-abled man, the minister started questioning the worker about his responsibilities and salary.

“What do you do here?” the minister asked. To this, he replied, “I am a safai karamchari”.

“At what time you report for duty? Are you here on a contract basis?” the minister questions.

“7 o’clock,” the employee answered.

The minister then scolded the staff who were accompanying him for the inspection. “You have hired ‘lule-langde’ (handicapped) persons. Just look at him, how can he discharge his responsibilities? How much you are paying him?”

“Rs 4,000 sir,” an employee replied to the minister.

When the matter gained media headlines, the Minister said that his remarks were misinterpreted.

“I just said that works should be distributed on basis of ability. I told them to hire two persons and shift him to other place. It is a pre-planned conspiracy. My remarks were misunderstood,” he said.

Senior BJP leader and state Cabinet minister Srikant Sharma too sought to downplay the controversy.

He said that the ministers should choose words very cautiously and that the motive was to ensure projects are completed within the stipulated time.

“He (Pachauri) is a senior minister. The Chief Minister has already asked the ministers to choose words very cautiously. The aim of his surprise inspection was to ensure works are done on time. But ministers should choose words very carefully. I can assure from now onwards, this will not be repeated,” he said.

It is worth mentioning here that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on many occasions insisted on using the word ‘divyang’ instead of ‘viklang’ to show respect to physically disabled persons.

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Disability Complicates Mother-Daughter Relationship


(WOMENSENEWS)—”Hey sweetie, how was your day?” she asked.

“It was really good,” I said. “I had a little setback when my friend offered me a cookie.”

“A cookie?” she replied, one eyebrow quizzically raised, her small, thin lips pursed, knowing I was on a diet.

At that moment there was nothing I wanted more than to kick her straight in the nose. Unfortunately, the only reason this was actually an option was that she was kneeling in front of me, washing my genitals.


Even though I’m a teen with a disability my life is like any other teenage girl — I have crushes, want to be liked by my peers and have aspirations in life, like going to college. And like my friends, I have a love-hate relationship with my mother. She is an amazing woman who does so much for me, but hormones and teenage rebellion can also make me resent her sometimes. When I have these feelings towards her though I can’t stomp out of the room yelling, “I HATE YOU,” like other girls do. I always have to swallow my feelings, since I’m never in a situation where I don’t need something from her.

It’s normal for teen girls to act out at home during puberty, said Annie Harris-Meachem, a disability rights advocate and psychologist.

“Puberty is, without doubt, the most emotionally volatile time in the life of a teenage girl,” she said. “A disability, visible or invisible, exacerbates and makes it much more difficult to answer the many questions about becoming a woman and sexuality.”

Harris-Meachem, author of “It’s Easier to Dance: Living Beyond Boundaries,” supported my observations that the daughter’s urge to rebel and the stresses of high school social dynamics make for a pressure cooker of emotions that swing from sweet to devil in a matter of moments. Add in an incessant splash of teen girl insecurities and you’ve got chaos at home.

Especially Complicated

Mother-daughter bonds are never simple, but when the daughter is disabled it is especially complicated. My mother assists me when getting dressed, showering, using the restroom and preparing meals. She is also my driver and main support system. Needing her help for all these things doesn’t leave much room for rebellion or teenage angst. How am I supposed to sneak out and party with my friends when I need her to physically get me in my bed?

My need for my mom to constantly be around means I haven’t gotten to party with my friends, get drunk on the weekends or even try to understand my sexuality. Though my mom tries to give me the space I need, some things are out of her control. It takes a toll on our relationship. This shows up in passive aggressive comments or moments when I explode, after holding my anger in too long.

I’m not the only one who struggles with these issues. Izzie Penston, 15, said “parents (of able-bodied teens) don’t hover around them nearly as much.” Penston, from Alameda, California, has Friedreich’s Ataxia, a disability that affects her nervous system.

Penston tries to avoid her parents when she doesn’t feel like she can control her emotions. Her mom, Zoe Penston, acknowledges the situation isn’t easy. “We don’t really have the ability to give each other the silent treatment or a lot of space,” she said.

My relationship with my mom is hard on her too. She doesn’t get to see friends or go on dates. I asked her about this recently. She was unwilling to admit it but I know it’s true: Her life would be a lot easier if I wasn’t disabled. I live with this guilt every day.

In two years I will hopefully be heading to a four year college and move away from home. This would be my first real opportunity to get a glimpse of “typical” teenage life. But it also terrifies me. While I want to be ready to spread my wings, without my mom I fear it will feel as though I have lost a limb.

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India – Disabled to Get More Space in Pvt Sector

New Delhi
For Big & Small Firms Right of Persons with Disabilities Act to get operational next week
Your favourite pizza joint may now have to ensure that it is accessible to everyone. From a small restaurant employing 20 persons to a private firm in an office complex, the private sector will have to ensure starting next week that it is accessible to the differently-abled, frames an equal opportunity policy for them, identifies jobs and provides facilities in the workplace.The Narendra Modi government has finalised the rules to operationalise Right of Persons with Disabilities Act next week. The social justice and empowerment ministry had been given a deadline of April 14 Ambedkar Jayanti ­ to operationalise the legislation.

“The rules have been finalised. We will issue the notification by Monday or Tuesday ,“ social justice a n d e m p owe r m e n t m i n i s t e r Thaawar Chand Gehlot told ET.

The department of empowerment of persons with disabilities (DEPwD) had finalised the rules and put them in the public domain in March. However, the biggest hitch in operationalising the Act was the definition of `establishment’ in the rules. The formulation put out in the rules said any establishment employing 50 persons or more. However, the law ministry had pointed out that the legislation passed by Parliament had made no such distinction on the numbers and the rules could not go beyond the Act and exclude any establishment under 50 persons. Gehlot confirmed that this has been addressed now.

The final formulation makes only one distinction, establishments em ploying less than 20 persons and those employing 20 persons or more, people familiar with the matter said.

While an equal opportunity policy will have to be framed by all establishments ­ private, governmentowned and ministries ­ the smaller establishments will need to main tain fewer records. A senior official said, “The processes are simpler for smaller establishments. They have to maintain fewer records and pledge not to discriminate against the differently-abled.“

For a bigger organisation employing more than 20 persons, an equal opportunity policy will spell out the jobs identified for the differentlyabled, the number of persons employed, facilities and assistive devices provided. This will be published on the website and in the annual reports.

The rules also mandate a grievance redressal mechanism. In case of discrimination or any other complaint, a differently-abled person can approach the chief commissioner or state commissioner for persons with disabilities. The complaint has to be disposed of within 60 days.

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Mental Healthcare Bill 2013: The Politics of Silence that Eclipses Public Health Vision

Image Courtesy: Campus Diaries

Public health law advocates legislation as a key policy measure for realizing the equitable distribution of health as a public good. The Mental Healthcare Bill 2013 (MHB) was passed by the Rajya Sabha with 134 amendments on August 8, 2016. Subsequently, it is also passed by the Lok Sabha in the budget session of 2017. This is hailed as a promising new deal in mental health in India. While replacing the Mental Health Act 1987 and decriminalising attempt to suicide, it provides for the ‘protection of the mentally ill person’ and for realizing ‘the right to affordable and accessible mental healthcare without discrimination’ (at the public health care institutions). The feasibility of achieving such a goal in the current political orientation to public health in India needs critical consideration.

The ‘eloquent’ silence: The MHB is silent on the most critical factors necessary for achieving these objectives which includes financing mechanism, primary healthcare (PHC) level arrangements and the provision of legal- remedial measures for the violations of rights of persons with mental illness (PMI). The socio-political contexts and the political orientation provide a better perspective to decipher the criticality of this silence.

Much before the euphoria of MHB peters out; there is a compelling need to put the act together for a comprehensive vision. The fragmented civil society lobbying for piecemeal legislations needs to realise that more laws will not accrue more rights and that only a well-functioning comprehensive PHC system can effectively address special healthcare needs including needs of PMIs.

India’s public expenditure currently is a dismal 1.2 percent of GDP, among the lowest in the world. The High Level Expert Group (HLEG) report commissioned by the erstwhile Planning Commission of India in 2011 diagnosed this factor as the root cause of the malaise resulting in further impoverishment of the populations. National Health Accounts (2013-14) have described the root of the malaise in the resource allocation terms. In common parlance the per capita expenditure on health care is Rs.3638 of which about, 72% (i.e. Rs.2596) is out of pocket expenditure (spent by patients) and only 28 (Rs.1,042) percent is the expenditure by the government. This is by far one of the lowest public spending on health care as even governments in Kenya, Zambia, Kyrgistan and Sri Lanka spend comparatively more than this. The Lancet (May 2016) has drawn attention to the abysmal state of health care system including mental health care infrastructure. The Parliamentary Standing Committee Report makes the central government responsible for the allocation of funds and casts an obligation on IRDA for making insurance accessible for PMIs. The MHB is totally silent on both these counts! Where is the money going to come from if the total allocation is not increased? Now that the GST Bill is passed, will the Centre pass the buck to the states as was done in the original draft?

The MHB glosses over the socio-psychological dimensions of mental health and only deals with it as a medical problem needing institutionalization. A range of psycho-social arrangements need to be put in place at the PHC level as therapeutic measures such as skilled as well as barefoot counselors, sensitized and trained PHC level health care providers, before the intervention of a psychiatrist is deemed necessary. TheLancet (December 2015) had indicated ‘an integrated national health-care system built around a strong public primary healthcare (PHC) system’ supported by the private and indigenous sectors’ as the architectural change that was required. A third feature that MHB is totally silent on is the remedies for the violations of the rights of PMI, and access to care without discrimination in the private healthcare sector.

Need: a comprehensive – integrated vision: The federal polity has resulted in virtually ‘passing the buck’ making public health the biggest casualty. To make both the centre and states accountable, a suitable constitutional amendment to make health care a concurrent subject might be necessary. Health being a state subject, there are over a thousand legislations relating to health care in various states of India. Instead India needs a comprehensive law to monitor the public health care, regulate the private care and to ensure patients’ rights. Political will both to raise the healthcare budget to 3.5% of the GDP to be able to deliver as well as to transform and re-orient medical education to make available quality human resource for the public health care sector is a sine qua non even for meeting the mental health care needs.

Much before the euphoria of MHB peters out; there is a compelling need to put the act together for a comprehensive vision. The fragmented civil society lobbying for piecemeal legislations needs to realise that more laws will not accrue more rights and that only a well-functioning comprehensive PHC system can effectively address special healthcare needs including needs of PMIs. Even as the private drugs and medical lobby is just waiting to make mental illness a new business with an already assured market of 70 million people, the citizens need to be well guarded against a myth that drugs and psychiatrists alone will usher in mental health in the country! A PHC vision based integrated psycho-social and community mental health approach supplemented by a well-equipped mental healthcare institutions at the district and state levels will go a long way in ensuring ‘the right to affordable and accessible mental healthcare without discrimination’.

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Shot By Her Boyfriend And Now Using A Wheelchair, She Found A ‘New Me’ #Vaw

Malebogo Molefhe, a winner of the 2017 International Women of Courage award, at the U.S. Department of State

Ryan Eskalis/NPR

When people find out that Malebogo Malefhe uses a wheelchair because she was shot by her boyfriend, the first question they ask is: “What did you do to him?”

Now Malefhe, who sustained eight bullets from her boyfriend of 10 years, wants to make sure that no woman who has faced domestic abuse is asked this question ever again.

The incident in 2009 nearly cost Malefhe her life. Since then, she has devoted herself to fighting gender-based violence in her native Botswana and teaching women that when men hurt them, it’s not their fault.

This year, the U.S. State Department gave her the 2017 International Women of Courage award. Now in its 11th year, the prize recognizes women who have put their lives on the line to improve their communities.

“Malebogo is being honored for her tenacity, strength and resilience to help other women and girls overcome the scourge of domestic violence,” said Thomas A. Shannon Jr., undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, speaking at the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Malefhe, 37, a former basketball player for Botswana’s national team, also advocates for the advancement of women in sports, with a focus on women with disabilities. She spoke with us about the shooting, her goals and how she stays motivated to help others. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

It’s a tragic story. After your boyfriend shot you, he took his own life.

They call it passion killing, and it’s been a trend [in Botswana] over the past 15 to 20 years. You hear stories of men in relationships who disagree about certain things, then brutalize women or hang themselves.

Passion killings seem to be a common topic in the news, and there’s been a study about their portrayal in the media. And in a six-month period in 2009, the police reported 89 deaths in Botswana from crimes of passion — seven men and 82 women. Where do you think this horrific phenomenon stems from?

We have cultural norms that limit women, like the bride’s price — the dowry. It bounds women to men and makes men think that once they have paid the price, then they own the woman. Culturally, women are not allowed to speak out against their husbands. When they try to talk to them or voice their concerns, men become threatened. They don’t really like it. So they take action.

You barely survived. You were left with spinal cord injuries and now you use a wheelchair. How did you find the strength to overcome it all?

I don’t want to lie — it was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was not easy. My injury was extensive. I almost lost my life. I had to learn how to use my body again. I had to learn to live over again. My friends and family stood by me and gave me the hope to keep living my life.

To find myself in that bottomless pit took so much courage to rise. And when I did, I looked at my life and said, I can use my story to help women. If I don’t tell my story, who else is going to do that?

Did you ever feel sorry for yourself?

Yes I did. Absolutely, I felt [starts to cry] sorry for myself so many times. I regretted so much. It was not like it just happened that night. The red flags had always been there. I just needed to have spotted the moment and left.

How are you helping women make sure they never have to go what you went through?

I tell women to look at the signs while they still have the time. Walk out while they still have the chance. They may not have the same opportunity as me. Some women have lost their lives because of violence. Others have been locked up in a mental institution because they’ve lost their mind because of the beatings or abuse.

I tell women that every time a crime is perpetrated, they should report it. But they report issues of abuse, then withdraw them. It’s difficult for authorities to follow up on their issues or assist them accordingly. Women need education to open them up to the realization that abuse is prevalent and they need to find ways to overcome it.

What part of your story surprises them the most?

My strength. It still shocks me as well. I don’t drown in self-pity. That is past now. Now I am the new me, in a wheelchair.

You were a basketball player on Botswana’s national team before you were shot. How are you staying connected to sports?

I’m trying to get people in wheelchairs to partake in the Paralympics. I’m trying to get as many women involved in this as possible. At this point, I’m the only one playing [basketball] with men. But I know there are so many women who have this same potential.

You’re also a champion of “self-love.” What does that mean, exactly?

We meet monthly with a group of girls. They are from small villages, impoverished; many are school dropouts. We teach them the value of living your purpose. To do that, they have to look inside themselves and note what they want to do with their lives. If they know this, it will help them be vigilant about their own lives.

It seems like you’ve found your purpose.

I’m just in the right place.

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