I recently came to know about “Devoteeism”, sexual attraction to disability. Shocked, I started researching it extensively online and what I found out disturbed me from the core of my heart. “Devoteeism”, to my understanding is a physical attraction to the ‘different’ movements by a person with a disability, even as they are doing something as normal as eating food. I discovered there are many websites that host videos of the day to day activities performed by people with disabilities. In one such video, a woman says she likes watching people with disabilities get dressed! There seem to be millions of people interested in these kinds of videos, people from India, too.
Nowadays, when I eat my food, as I aim the food towards my mouth, my hand shakes, and a bit of the food falls. As I take a bite, what goes through my mind is this – the devotees are going to love this vision of me struggling as I eat my daily meal. There’s a constant fear of being objectified as a girl on a wheelchair everywhere I go. I can’t understand how someone can find my wheelchair ‘sexy’ or ‘desirable’; it’s like someone will be in a relationship with me just because I use a wheelchair. It is a horrifying thought because not everyone will confess that they have an obsession. This person can be anywhere and everywhere, observing you and getting sexual gratification, through you.
Seeing people with disabilities struggle is a major part of devoteeism or their fetish. For me, each part of my life is a struggle, it may be typing, walking or even going to the bathroom. This is my life and I have become used to it, but when I found that someone else on seeing these struggles, can get sexual arousal or can gratify themselves – this means for them, the disabled community is nothing more than just a sex object.
On one hand, there are devotees who are so insensitive to people with disabilities. On the other hand, there are also people, who are genuine, and respectful towards people with disabilities. As there are always two sides of the same coin, my aim was to make people around me aware. We have to be conscious of people who can harass us and people who are genuine with their feeling of love and respect towards people with disabilities.
For me, my disability is a part of me, not the whole of me. This devoteeism makes me scared and forces me to cover up my disability. When I told this issue to my friends, they told me to be conscious, moreover to not upload pictures showcasing my disability on Facebook.