Call to revisit disability ordinance 1981 to end prejudice

KARACHI: Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation AWAM organized a round table meeting entitled “Engaging Civil Society for Voicing out Disability Issues in collaboration with the Milestone Society for Special Persons, Highly Enthusiastic and Educative Rights Association HEERA and US Consulate General at Technical Services Association TSA.

At this juncture, 34 participants including persons with disabilities PWDs, lawyers, Journalists, human rights activists, representative of disabled people organizations and trade unions participated for suggesting reforms in the light of the united nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities UNCRPD.

On the occasion, Naseem Anthony Executive Secretary AWAM, Shafiqur Rehman President Milestone Society for Special Persons, Advocate Omer Pervaiz Malik President HEERA, Shazia George Coordinator AWAM, Advocate Sheikh Pervaiz LABARD, Samina Farooq HomeNet, Barsila John TSA, Munawar Ali Shahid journalist and Zameer Afaqi journalist shared their views about the present situation of disability rights and standards enshrined in UNCRPD.

The prime objectives behind the round table meeting was to sensitize the participants about the rights based model for persons with disabilities, make a cluster of the civil society groups to highlight the gaps in the existing legislation and draw attention of the legislators towards mainstreaming disability issues.

Executive Secretary AWAM Naseem Anthony said, “There is no comprehensive domestic legislation covering disability issues available in Pakistan as the existing bureaucratic hurdles are redoubling the ordeals of persons with disabilities and fail to redress the gap and balance, despite the fact that Pakistan has ratified international instrument regarding the disability rights.”

He called upon the State for revisiting the disability ordinance 1981 in order to make it gender sensitized and unbiased. He further emphasized to appoint persons with disabilities in concerned departments for persons with disabilities.

Coordinator AWAM Shazia George said, “People with disabilities are the important segment of our society, but they experience severe difficulties in lives and encounter many challenges in society, and are often subjected to stigma, discrimination, maltreatment and exploitation.” “The government should take initiatives to tackle the vicious cycle of poverty and disability to address legal and institutional exclusion and to reduce the barriers that persons with disabilities face in everyday life, including inaccessible built environments, information, transportation and services,” she added.

President Milestone Society for Special Persons Shafiqur Rehman said, “All the human beings are the creation by the Almighty Allah, and all are equal in status, but the discrimination starts from home when the people of the family start comparing the persons with disabilities to the persons without disabilities, the reason behind the comparison is very clear which is the denial of the persons with disabilities, therefore, we must educate all the members of the society to transform positive attitude towards the persons with disabilities for their inclusion and acceptability.”

President HEERA Omer Pervez Malik said, “Government must create a better legislation and policies in conformity with the CRPD Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by Pakistan in 2011, and should ratify its optional protocol to make a better, accessible and barrier free environment for persons with disabilities”.

A labour right activist of Homenet, Samina Farooq said, “The creation of job opportunities for PWDs as per their population and economic empowerment can help to eradicate their ordeals.” “State should enhance the reserved quota as per their current population,” she demanded.

An advocate working for Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Sheikh Pervaiz Malik, said, “The disability registration process should be friendly and integrated into one window operation. Government must dissolve the District Disability Board to Tehsil Level and should authorise Tehsils to register the persons with disabilities in order to have a complete data of persons with disabilities to ensure their political participation in the coming election.”

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