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    June 22, 2016



Shahzada Ibrahim represents Pakistan in the United Nations General Assembly

Chitral Times Report

New Yak: On the 9th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Mr. Shahzada Ibrahim from Chitral represented the civil society of Pakistan.  The theme of the 9th session of the conference of the United Nations member States Parties to the CPRD was held here in United Nations General Assembly is “Implementing the sustainable Development Agenda (SDG ) 2030 with the objective that all persons with disabilities, leaving no one behind”. States Parties and expert panels of the world took part in the briefing.

On the occasion, Shahzada Ibrahim represented all civil societies of Pakistan summarized the issues and hurdles facing the persons with disabilities and he endeavored to convince the states parties and donor agencies to achieve the Agenda of 2030 that no person with disability leave behind.

He said Pakistan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The poverty level in Pakistan is increasing day by day and more than 40 % people within the country are living their lives below the poverty line on average they are earning less than RS125/day i-e half $.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, states: "Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country". Despite this, disabled people in Pakistan face immense difficulties in accessing services, facilities and opportunities. There are a number of reasons behind the poor accessibility in Pakistan; however, probably the root of the problem is lack of awareness of disability and the needs of disabled people. This results in disabled people being marginalized and excluded from mainstream society. They are rarely consulted or considered when planning infrastructure or services. Without understanding disability and the needs of disabled people the situation cannot radically improve to solve a problem.

The accessibility is often seen only in terms of physical infrastructure. It is obvious that many disabled people are not able to enter buildings, cross busy roads, get on or off buses or trains or use public facilities. Thus, one can say that disabled people are denied access to transport and freedom of movement. However, the problem extends beyond that which is immediately apparent. If a disabled person cannot travel to or enter a health complex he or she is also denied healthcare. If the same applies to educational institutions he or she is denied access to an education. If the same applies to a workplace he or she is denied access to a source of income. Even if a building is designed to enable a disabled person to enter, his or her mobility may still be restricted. Light switches may be out of reach, sinks and mirrors too high, lifts unavailable or doorways too narrow to pass through. Additionally, even if a disabled person is educated, healthy and qualified to do a job, the prevailing attitudes to disability will often prevent him or her being considered for that post. The same can be said of training and financial or credit opportunities. Accessibility in all its forms remains a matter of equal rights and opportunities. Disability is one of the vital problems of Pakistan. Owing to malnourished mothers, ill health, lack of minimum medical facilities, rate of disability is higher than any other part of the World. Belonging to the poor parents and families, the people with disability lead their lives in a miserable condition. Unfortunately Pakistan Govt. initiatives for the disabled peoples are hardly available while NGOs and civil societies do not have adequate programs for them. Considering the situation, Northern Citizen Community Board(NCCB) has undertaken an initiative to promote the livelihood, their rights, easy living and economic self-sufficiency of the people with disability.

National Scenario: Since no comprehensive study has been undertaken to determine the incidence and prevalence of impairment and disability, it cannot be ascertained the prevalence rate of disability in Pakistan. But it is believed that the prevalence rate would be higher than the WHO’s projected global number of 13.4% for reasons relating to wide spread poverty, illiteracy, overpopulation, lack of awareness and above all lack of medical care and services. The total population with disability in Pakistan on the estimates of the ASER(Annual Status of Education Report) is about 27 million. The vast majority of these people are not only poor but among the poorest of the poor. Poverty and disability reinforce one another contributing to vulnerability and exclusion. They do not have access to the basic human needs. They are kept away from the mainstream society.

Key Problems Faced By People with Disability
Life Situation of the person’s with disabilities at family and social level:
Most of the people with physical disability, blindness, low vision, multiple disability and intellectual disability are looked after by their family members. The reflection from the Focused Group Discussion is that a greater majority of People with disability are in need of assistance for activities of daily living. It is observed that the type of assistive devices needed most by People with disability of differs from that needed most by People with disability based on the prevalent disability type. As should have been expected, majority of people with disability have put forward their need of wheelchairs and glasses while majority of People with disability have demanded hearing aid. It is observed that families do not keep in mind the importance of the education of persons with disabilities, persons with disabilities are discouraged to get married, Persons with disabilities are victim to violence, abuse and negligence. Most of the time they kept separated from other family members and relatives; there is no chance of participation in social activities. It is inferred that most of the people with disability are suffering from lack of confidence which raises hurdle for them in socializing with others. Majority of the People with disability have stated as having major issues in introducing themselves and this being the beginning of all other aspects of socialization such as initiating relationships and friendships make it difficult for the people with disability to interact with people and build on from there. Therefore inculcating confidence in the people with disability is of utmost importance and should be kept utmost priority.

Educational Status:
In Pakistan after having analyzed data depicting educational level of the people with disability it is observed that a major chunk of People with disability are not educated i.e. illiterate. This may be attributed to the very ignorant behavior of family members towards education of people with disability. Additionally it may also be attributed to unavailability of special schools for people with disability. Whatever the reason maybe, our analysis draws attention to illiteracy among people with disability as an extremely sensitive issue which should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Livelihood Engagement:
After having observed the data for identifying how the People with disability earn a living for themselves, it is seen that most people with disability with physical, multiple or intellectual disabilities do not work at all. On the other hand most People with disability with hearing/speech disability work in livestock and as barbers. On the whole, however, the data reflects on the need for providing the people with disability with opportunities to earn a livelihood. This way not only will their families benefit but, most importantly, they will feel good about themselves giving them the required boost of self-confidence and self-assurance.

Violence against women and access to justice:
Most of the women with disabilities claim that they have to suffer different kind of violence in the society such as mental, physical and sexual abuse. In the family, women with disabilities are ignored from their human rights and in the most cases family does not ensure their safety and security. In the society, women with disabilities are facing gang rape, trafficking, kidnapping and murder after rape. In addition to lack of inclusion in relevant laws, the courts also fail to give justice to the victim women or girls with disabilities. The courts do not agree to accept the evidence from visually impaired girls.

In Pakistan on the other hand, there are very few facilities available for its physically-challenged residents, which according to the 1998 Census there are 3,286,630 disabled persons in a total population of 132,352,000, indicating 2.4% disabled in Pakistan. This figure was hotly contested by civil society and NGOs working for the disabled, who pointed out the shortcomings of the survey methodology which, among other things, did not take into account the social barriers and stigma related to the disabled in the country. About 95% of the Pakistani disabled population is illiterate. This makes the physically-challenged section of the society a burden on the national economy. As a nation, we cannot develop economically, socially, or culturally if we ignore the existence of such a significant portion of our population. Furthermore, we believe the key to ensure a productive future to this country is to train its young citizens to recognize their role in society and to have an active and improved lifestyle, as they will be the ones to lead the world of tomorrow. In Pakistan as in many other countries, the disabled persons are often looked upon as a burden on the society and are unable to become productive members of the society. In the past, the disability related issues have been ignored widely both by the Govt. and the NGOs. Currently they are being recognized as a cross cutting development issues and also are gradually being seen more as an issue of right than charity. In order to enhance socio-economic development, the country cannot afford to leave these segments of people out of the development process. Development is neither possible nor desirable without comprehensive and sensible program for all section of people. And so such gainful economic activities for the disadvantaged group of population are one of the expressed objectives of the 5 years Strategic Plan Northern Citizen Community Board (NCCB) Pakistan. Keeping this in view and with the aims to provide appropriate and gainful services to the underprivileged specially the disabled people NCCB has planned to undertake the project on the persons with disability. Disability is increasingly regarded as a core development issue among policymakers and scholars as evidenced by guidelines such as the UN’s Including the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in UN Programming at Country Level (UNDG, 2011).

It is pertinent to mention here that Shahzada Ibrahim is a CEO of an NGO Northern Citizen Community Board (NCCB) Pakistan, he belong from Laspure Mastuj District Chitral.


mail @ chitraltimes@gmail.com

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