PWDs Demand Domestication Of Disability Act In Ebonyi

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The Albino Foundation Public Notice

By Grace Egbo

Women and girls living with disability have called on Ebonyi State Government to as a matter of urgency, domesticate the National Disability Act.

They made the appeal during a 3-day training on access to justice for women and girls living with disabilities against sexual and gender-based violence organised by a civil society organisation, Women Rights and Health project (WRAHP) with funding from the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) in Ebonyi State.

According to them, the high level of deprivation, discrimination, neglect and stigmatization, violence, rape and other forms of sexual harassment often meted on them by the abled public has left many of them dead.

They however noted that with the domestication of the Disability Act, appropriate authorities will prosecute violators of their rights in accordance with extant laws.

Narrating her ordeal, one of the participants, a disabled Masters degree student, Nelly Bisong Ifeanyi, said she missed most of her lectures because they were often held in the upper floors of storey buildings or in elevated floors without ramps.

Ifeanyi said: “People neglect us; it is not everybody that accepts people with disabilities.

“This has really affected me emotionally and psychologically, such that it has deprived me of certain feats I could have attained.

“It has not been easy from childhood, but I was determined to make it, with the support of my family.

“When I started my Msc programme in Ebonyi State, I always complained to my lecturers about constant up-floor lectures and I will often be ignored.

“But I continued persistently with the department, threatening to withdraw my school fees before they started addressing my concerns.

“But in my graduate years, I suffered greatly because I hadn’t such boldness then.”

Another participant, Elizabeth Agbo from Abakaliki Local government area, also added: “Government does not make provisions for people with disabilities, and I must say it.

“To start with, the Ministry of Women Affairs is not supposed to be located upstairs.

“If it must be upstairs, let it have a ramp or working elevator that will lift the disabled.

“Now if we have a complaint, how do we get there?

“I was invited to a programme there one time but I couldn’t go in because I could not be lifted from my wheelchair to the office floor.

“I was deprived of the chance of being part of that event.”

The PWDs appreciated WRAHP, and other CSOs for increasing their awareness of their rights and self-esteem in society, pledging to step the knowledge down to their peers.

Earlier, the Executive Director, WRAHP, Mrs Bose Ironsi, explained that the training was part of her organisation’s efforts to ensure that persons living with disabilities, especially women and girls are advocating for their rights to be free from violence, right violations, and demand a more inclusive justice system that caters for their unique needs.

“Due to widespread discrimination, extensive rights violation, neglect and stigmatization, women and girls living with disabilities are at three times greater risk of suffering physical, sexual and economic abuse compared to women and girls living without disabilities.

“And this risk is further exacerbated by a lack of information and limited capacity of women living with disabilities to assert their sexual and reproductive rights, report rights infringement/ violations and demand a more inclusive justice system that caters to their unique needs,” she emphasized.

In an interview, the Ebonyi State Coordinator, Gender-based violence Taskforce, Barr. Faithvin Nwanchor said the Taskforce has done a lot in sensitizing the disabled and other vulnerable groups on their rights and helping them seek redress in cases of abuse.

While blaming the inability of the disabled to seek justice partly to ignorance, she expressed excitement over the training, appreciating WRAHP for the initiative.

WRAHP is a registered, not-for-profit organization with the core mission of promoting women and community health by equipping, mobilizing, and actively engaging members of the community as agents of change through information sharing, capacity building and advocacy.

Tribune online

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