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Bill For The Rights Of Disabled People Hanging Midway: Why Is India Not Talking About It?

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By Mayank Jain: 

We pride ourselves on the fact that we are a very tolerant and welcoming country for people from everywhere and there is room for everyone, but this notion of India is fast fading among our own people. Differently abled people who already lead a hard life due to their medical issues also face social stigma and prying stares from everyone around them but their determination and will to succeed is what we never fail to see and celebrate.

They are the ones who have done so much in spite of being lesser privileged than most of us and they are the ones whom we should help get up and rise to glory instead of playing them down or ignoring them as a section of people that doesn’t matter to us. Recent developments support the latter view of ignorance and apathy though.

disabled people rights

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2013 was finally approved by the cabinet after sustained efforts of the disabled rights groups all across the country but right before it was being tabled in Rajya Sabha, both houses were adjourned sine die. This comes as a shock to the whole disabled rights community since they have burned the midnight oil to get this done through various protests, consultations and meetings with apathetic ministers. The winter session is now over and the budget session is on its way which will have nothing to do with the bill. General elections in 2014 will happen afterwards, which will wash off any hope of getting the bill passed because the new government might just scrap it right off.

Interacting with one such differently abled activist Mr. Pradeep Raj, I discovered how important it is to them and they have lost all hope of it getting cleared by the next government so the time is now or never for them. “There are 70 million differently abled people in India and the clearance of it affects more people than Section 377 does but media constantly chooses to ignore us as non-existent and we have never been able to get our efforts through”. He is a famous activist and responsible for many corruption disclosures in Paralympic Committee of India and his dissent is not towards the LGBTQ community which but towards the mainstream media for whom a movie’s earnings or its reviews mean a lot more than the need of differently abled people among us.

In that short discussion he told his story of struggle and how he has led protests all across Delhi and outside many minister’s office but to no avail. All the community wants right now is a special session of Parliament to be called and the bill should be tabled. This is not much of a ask if we look at the number of people getting affected but the only reason it didn’t happen sooner is that the elite society doesn’t think of them as their own people and media fails to highlight such issues until they make a news through protesting or activism.

What we can all do to support Pradeep and millions of others with him is to just raise our voices and amplify this issue to the decision making authorities to give them a chance to be heard so that they also get their fair share of rights. Is that too much to ask for?

You must be to comment.
  1. prashant prajapati

    i too suppport this aandolan..

  2. Rajnish Kr. Arya

    Because in our country the neither PWDs nor DPOs are not united. You may see there are separate organisation for Visually Challenged, Hearing Challenged and many more. Perhaps they want to do their business in their own way. Even before two days ago there were meeting of some DPOs, NGOs and Activists of a specific region in Delhi. Until we get unity we will not be able to have proper attention of the Govt. and its authorities.

  3. Ranjeet Kumar

    This is really sad to know that the Bill for rights for PWD is pending. But it has been observed that the bill which is currently available for PWD’s does not help the needy people. There are schemes i.e. ADIP ( Assistance to the disabled perosns) but still people doesnot get benifitted because of its implementation prcedure. So, there is strong need to work on the grass root level to fulfill the right for the PWD’s

    Ranjeet Kumar

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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