Differently abled continue their struggle for rights

Kathmandu, December 2

Every morning, two blind street performers assist one another as they walk the streets of Kathmandu in search of a corner where they perform for money.

Krishna Bahadur Sapkota, 53, is the technical ‘expert’ of the two-person band, while Krishna BK, 26, is the talent. The two men can be seen performing at the footpath in front of Bir Hospital, at Sundhara, at Ratnapark, at Narayangadh, and on the streets of Jorpati.

“During the Maoist insurgency, some people broke into my house and attacked us. I lost my eyesight in the attack. I was fourteen,” shares BK.

BK was a seventh grader in Lamjung at that time, and was forced to discontinue school after the incident. “My family did not have the resources to take care of me, so I came to the capital with a friend hoping to find a job,” he said.

Sapkota has a Master’s degree, but said that he never got any job because of his disability. “The constitution says that organisations and offices must not discriminate against disabled candidates and must create a work environment that is disabled-friendly. But all that is only written in paper. Even the streets aren’t disabled-friendly,” he said.

The constitution clearly stipulates the right to equality as a fundamental right, but they aren’t implemented widely.

General Secretary of the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal Raju Basnet said, “Our struggle for fundamental rights is still ongoing; it seems unlikely that we will be involved in policy level activities anytime soon.”

According to the National Census 2011, 1.94 per cent of the total population of Nepal is living with some kind of disabilities, whereas the National Living Standard Survey Report 2011 put the percentage of disabled population at 3.6 per cent.

However, both figures are quite low as compared to the 15 per cent claimed by the WHO and the World Bank in the World Report on Disability (2011).