Disability is a broad term and one that is often frowned upon by society. We have come a long way to change our approach towards the word ‘disable’ and change it to ‘differently-abled’, ‘specially-abled’ and more.
However, while the terminology towards it has changed, the mindset is still the same. As unfortunate as it is true, different-abled individuals are considered a burden, moreover, if the person is a female, she faces even more challenges.
Not only is the individual considered a financial liability, but they are also judged for their inability to carry out specific tasks. Moreover, these insensitive comments are made by family and close friends. If the person someone trains themselves to meet their daily needs, they are then faced with the hurdle of finding employment.
While there are special quotas set asides for people with disabilities, they are often not given a chance to make a livelihood. Another issue they commonly face is the lack of inclusive infrastructure (ramps, handicap parking, etc) that can help them commute easily.
Unfortunately, women who are differently-abled are rejected because of their looks, society labels them as someone who is ‘unfit’ even though they are as capable, maybe even more, as any other person who can walk on their own two feet.
Another hurtful truth is that there are many myths that surround such people, girls are rejected for unproved reasons such as if the girl gives birth the child will also be handicapped, or ‘incapable’, born with a lower IQ, etc.
Women who suffer through the hurdles that come with the label of being a specially-abled individual want the world to know that they are independent, and strong, and want to be included in society, not treated as aliens or otherwise.
“Women with disabilities are either restricted in homes for life or considered only worthy of charity. No one thinks we can live a normal life like all,” said Abia Akram, a 40-year-old born with the genetic form of rickets, a rare disease that causes the softening and weakening of bones.
Almost 27 years ago, Maria Qureshi was perfectly healthy, one day she felt immense pain in her spinal cord that turned into a disability making her wheelchair-bound for life. She was diagnosed with a rare bone disease that left her completely dependent on others. “It was no less than a nightmare for me, which took many years to bring myself out [of],” Qureshi said.
Qureshi said people began asking what she’d be able to do with her disability, lamenting on the fact that she’d be dependent on family for the rest of her life. “Such remarks were killing me from inside,” she added. “A disabled girl can live a healthy married life. This was what we were hearing after entering professional life. However, parents avoid discussing marriage-related affairs in the presence of their disabled daughters,” said Yusra Gilani.
“No one talks about women’s disability in our country. They become a burden on their families due to the lack of facilities. They are also subjected to sexual harassment. They are rejected because of their physical structure. It is also said that in case of marriage of such women, their children may also be disabled,” Gilani said.
“If a disabled woman is able to find her life partner, she has to compromise many of her desires in her married life. She suffers greater emotional and physical abuse when in a relationship because neither husband nor in-laws give respect which they readily give to a normal girl, instead see her as a burden.” Gilani concluded while emphasizing that physical disabilities don’t equate to reproductive disabilities.
Empathy and compassion seem to be missing from society nowadays. It is important that children as well as adults are taught how to be inclusive and empathetic towards others.
No matter how she looks like, what her complexion is, or whatever her height is, whether she is a housewife, a working woman, a mother, single, skinny, or healthy, she is absolutely perfect just the way she is and should be accepted for who she is.
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