Disabled people seek equality

Kathmandu, June 23

Participants at a programme here today called on the media and the general public to treat disabled people with equality and not look at them with sympathy.

“Though we are able to travel in our wheel chairs, people look at us with sympathy. And that’s very debilitating,” said 25-year-old Amrita Gyawali during a workshop titled ‘Media Portrayal of Disabled People  organised in Kathmandu.

“A person in the wheel chair is just like any normal person when its comes to their psychological and emotional needs. We want to be treated with equality and dignity just like any normal person,” she said. She also called on the media to refrain from using words that evoke sympathy in the public towards people living with various forms of disabilities.

Bhoj Raj Shrestha, a participant at the programme, shared that though the wheel chair movement had brought some changes in the country, lack of rules and regulations on treatment of disabled people made it difficult to ensure their rights and self-respect.

“Most of our public places are not disabled-friendly. Even most airlines, both domestic and international, lack wheel chair lift van facility, and those having the facility charge extra money from us. “It is injustice done to us,” he bemoaned.

Of the total population, nearly two per cent people in Nepal are living with disability, according to the 2011 census.

Such people tend to hide their disabilities due to social stigma attached to their conditions, said Gajendra Budhathoki, deputy editor at Karobar Dainik, who is also physically-disabled.

The issue of disability must be sensitised in the media so that people become aware of the needs and rights of the disabled people, Budhathoki said from his wheel chair.