Awareness & Advocacy

Awareness and advocacy go hand in hand. Our society has huge misconceptions and myths about intellectual disability. As a result of it, people with intellectual disability face gross violations of their human rights like absence of education and training, work opportunity, social relationships, abusive behaviour from family and uncertainty upon the death of their parents.

There are innumerable cases of families that are forced to abandon their children with intellectual disability on streets. Asha Kiran in Rohini, Delhi – a home for children and adults with intellectual disability is a glaring example of such neglect and abandonment by the families.

Families are not aware of the “Right to Education” and other legal rights enshrined in PWD Act 1995. Another new Act on rights of people with disability is in pipeline. There are several Govt. schemes which have provision for pension, disability certificate, health insurance (Niramaya), reservation in housing and shops, ease of loans to set up one’s own enterprises etc, for people with intellectual disability.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is a path-breaking step in recognising the Human Rights and bringing a paradigm shift from a Welfare approach to a Right-based approach. India ratified this international legislation in 2007.It means the Govt. of India has a commitment to enable people with all disabilities to realise their human rights

What we can do

  • We need to associate ourselves with the groups who are engaged in advocacy and give them our time and efforts even if there is no personal benefit.
  • Write to the Govt. depts. about grievances and injustice meted to our children.
  • We owe a responsibility to future generations so that they have better opportunities and the environment to live a fuller life.
  • Be informed about government schemes assisting persons with intellectual disability
  • Understand the difficulties of our child and support him/her through training

Following Govt. Departments are specially set up to address the grievances :

  • We need to associate ourselves with the groups who are engaged in advocacy and give them our time and efforts even if there is no personal benefit.
  • Write to the Govt. depts. about grievances and injustice meted to our children.
  • We owe a responsibility to future generations so that they have better opportunities and the environment to live a fuller life.
  • Be informed about government schemes assisting persons with intellectual disability
  • Understand the difficulties of our child and support him/her through training

What we need to do to strengthen advocacy?

Advocacy requires that we inform ourselves about the following:

  • UNCRPD
  • Disability Acts of Indian Government and other schemes & programmes.
  • Write to the government departments about grievances and injustice meted to our children.

An aware and sensitised society can reduce the struggles of people with intellectual disability and their families. Moreover, families need to know the rights of their child e.g. “Right to Education” and other legal rights enshrined in PWD Act 1995.

Awareness about rights and legislation is particularly lacking in the field of intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Perhaps parents, families and professionals are more involved in managing services or their personal challenges arising from lack of services. Small efforts here and there are not enough. A concerted effort by groups of people on a constant basis is the need of the hour. It is essential for families to keep themselves informed about their child’s rights and understand what it takes to be an effective guardian. Good NGOs have created enough successful service models. Advocacy with the government will scale up services to reach majority of our population.

Some of the legislation and their links are given below:

Disability Acts of India

 

URCPD – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

It is not only a Rights based legislation, but has the potential to change our understanding of disability. Salient rights of persons with disability in UNCRPDare –

  • Right to education
  • Right to work & employment
  • Right to health
  • Right to adequate standard of living & social protection
  • Right to habitation & rehabilitation
  • Right to accessibility to information
  • Right to freedom from exploitation
  • Equal recognition before law / legal capacity
  • Access to justice – freedom of expression, participation in political, public life & in cultural life