Disable people are deprived of their rights in Bangladesh
Lubana Yasmin Palia
WHEN Misti lost her legs after falling from a tree, her family had thought it was the end of the teenage girl's world. But she has proved the family wrong. She overcame all odds to receive higher education and get a job. Wheelchair-bound since passing the SSC exams, Misti is now a successful career woman.
Nothing could stop the spirited young woman from perusing her education. She got admitted into Dhaka University for M. Phil after completion of her Master's in accounting from Mohammadpur Central College.
After a few days, she flew to Japan with a fellowship. On her return from Japan, she wanted to continue with the M Phil, but she was informed that her admission had been cancelled. The authorities even did not explain the reason of the cancellation. She was disappointed, but not totally down.
Having failed to do the M Phil, Misti began looking for a job and got one. She has since then been working as a deputy coordinator of a business firm in Dhaka for the last three years. She still intends to resume higher education, including a doctorate.
In Bangladesh, there are many disabled people like Misti. But not all of them are as successful as she is. They are deprived of their due rights for lack of awareness and sympathy.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 10 per cent of the population in the developing nations are disabled. Therefore, the number of disabled people in Bangladesh should stand at 1.4 million. Many disabled people have to depend on others and become burden of the families for lack of opportunities. But they want a change and live a normal life.
There are two types of disabled in the society: some of them can still work and some cannot. There are those who are born crippled, while accidents and diseases make others disabled. The disabilities include physical disability, blindness, deafness, dumbness and mental retardation. Besides, there are other types of disabilities.
Visually impaired Mansura Yasmin is a second year student at Dhaka University's Political Science department. She says, “On the occasion of 'Disabled Day' in 2001, the Social Welfare Ministry announced that 10 per cent of government jobs would be reserved for the disabled. Regrettably, orphans were also included in this quota, which means 10 per cent quota is for orphans and disabled together. It is not clear how the disabled will benefit from the quota."
She further says, “Despite having qualifications, we are not getting jobs even though everyone should stand by the disabled like me.”
Animesh Taju, deputy coordinator of Bangladesh Disabled Welfare Association, is physically crippled. He says, “For a man like me, getting a job depends on the type of his disability. For instance, physically disabled are more occupied than others are. Although visually impaired are more educated than others, they cannot be employed for lack of environment involving proper machines.”
He goes on: “Among the limited number of employed disabled people with dumbness, most of them are engaged in manual jobs. Besides, in terms of employment, women disabled lag far behind their male counterparts.”
Visually impaired Prodip Chandra Das is a teacher of Handicraft Training Centre. He joined the centre at the end of 2004. “Like other job-seekers, I also had to go through written examination and viva voce, and I was appointed for my qualifications. Although I got the job quite easily, many disabled people have to take huge trouble to get a job,” he says.
Alongside a few government organisations, some non-government organisations have also come up to support the country's disabled. These include Bangladesh Disabled Welfare Association (BDWA), Bangladesh National Dumb Association, Society for the Welfare of Autistic Children and Disabled Handicrafts. Of them, nearly half of the BDWA employees are disabled, which proves that the disabled are also able to run an organisation.
Animesh Taju says, “The government has recently arranged loans for the disabled. They can borrow a certain amount of money from some local banks by which they can achieve financial freedom by investing the money although availing of the loan is not hazard-free. Everyone of the society needs to supplement the government efforts to get over such problems.”
Official sources say the government has recently made arrangements to keep one per cent of first and second class government jobs reserved for the disabled.
Nowadays, the disabled are showing success in every sphere of life, including computer use, office works, planning, writing, dancing, singing and sports.
Majeda Begum, a female UP member in Tangail, is one of them. The visually impaired lady was elected member from a women's reserved seat and she has been able to contribute to the community. Along with working for the poor, she has been campaigning tirelessly to rid the locality of dowry and early marriage. Many had laughed her off when Majeda expressed her desire to become a member. “They had said a blind cannot be a member,” Majeda Begum recalls.
Majeda has proved that disability cannot stop a person from contributing to the society if he or she has the will and gets the opportunity.
Source: News network