The Disability Situation in Nepal

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By Meen Raj Panthi (

Nepali society still views disability as a penance to the sins committed in previous births. The people with disabilities pare treated worst as an object of pity. People with disabilities are hided as the matter of social prestigious by families is still practiced largely. The notion that people with disabilities have equal rights and duty as any other individual, is largely absent from the popular mindset.

In accordance with a latest study conducted by New Era’s 70.1 percent of the persons with disabilities have stigma and difficulties to live in the community with self-respect.

There is no comprehensive data on disability in Nepal. Even the number of people with disabilities varies according to sources.

As per the estimation 7-10 percent of the total population in Nepal are the people with disabilities in one form or in other way. Five categories of the people with disabilities: visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically disabled, mentally retired and mentally disordered are recognised by the Government of Nepal. Rights of all people with disabilities to participate fully in society have not been practiced by the state. In terms of health, accessibility, education, economy, and employment opportunities people with disabilities are treated as second-class citizens.

A research has indicated that most of the disabled persons (69.3%) depend upon support from their family members.

Having a disabled person posed problems in most (90.5%) of the households. The difficulties they faced were mostly related to the inability of the disabled persons to work and taking care of the disabled persons, like teaching new task or having to leave the disabled persons alone.

More over, still a large number of the disabled persons have not got any kind of treatment. This could be due to lack of knowledge and awareness that impairment can be treated. It could also be because the family does not have the resources, or because the health facilities do not function properly and staff does not know about disability.

Similarly, acording to the finding of New Era most of disabled persons have no education (68.2%) as compared to the general population, where 4.8 percent have no education. The literacy rate is considerably lower for females than males, with 77.7 percent of the females and 59.6 percent of the males having no education

The participation of disabled person in skill training is also negligible.

The women with disabilities have been facing double discriminations first as a disabled person and second as a woman. Though there is a provision of five years additional prison sentence for the rapist of women with disabilities,the clause that grossly discriminates between man with disability (MWD) and women with disabilities (WWD) is still active in Muluki Ain, (2020 B.S.). The Marriage chapter, clause 9 of Muluki Ain permits husband to remarry another woman if his wife get visual or locomotive impairment. The same is not given to women. This is the case of double discrimination for being a woman and disabled person.

1. The stakeholders involved in the theme

The Government at both central and local levels, NGOs working on disability, and INGOs/UN Agencies have been involved in disability sector mainly in following areas.

* Conducting Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programmes.
* Raising awareness and advocacy activities to protect and promote the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.
* Providing preventive and corrective measures of disability in health sector.
* Providing scholarship and conducting special education through integrated approach.
* Providing vocational training and other income generating opportunities to support and promote livelihood.
* Introducing policies and laws for protecting rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.

3. Attempts being made by Government and others and the Gaps

Programmes and services to address the disability are very limited and they have been focused specially in urban areas mainly. These initiatives are charity based and not from the rights prospective. A study done by New Era’s says, majority of people with disabilities are out of education opportunity, health facility, accessibility, social security, aid and appliances, vocational skills, income generating program, Community based Rehabilitation etc. Despite recent efforts, from the media and self-help organizations, a large number of people with disabilities are unaware about their rights. They still think disability as sin of their past life and prefer to be the subject of pity and charity rather than to seek their rights to live a respectable life in the society.

Changes in the governing law have become charity outlook on disability. Without ensuring rights to live a social life for the disable people through legislation, the programmes designed for people with disabilities become futile. The amended draft of ‘Disability Persons Welfare and Protection Act 2039 (DPWA)’ also is not fully ensure the equitable and dignified life of people with disabilities. The Constitutional clauses also have not been enacted to make special arrangements for the people with disabilities. To address the need of reservation to insure participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of social life, the present constitution also need to be amended accordingly. All the discriminatory provisions in existing laws including the marriage clause of Muluki Ain should be eliminated.

4. Linkage with identified gaps to Action Aid Nepal’s (AAN) vision, mission and goals

The mission of AAN’s is “to eradicate poverty through the process of empowerment of the poorest and most marginalized women, men, girls and boys.” The values of AAN include empathy with the poor and marginalized, mutual respect and equity, non sectarian, quality and excellence. Disability is an area of AAN’s engagements with these core values to address inequality and injustices in disabilities.

AAN has considers person with disability as one of the rights holders group. ActionAid believes that “poverty is eradicable” and wants to eradicate poverty through the process of “empowerment of the poorest and most marginalized”. The person with disability (PWDs) is considered to be the poorest of the poor. It is impossible to eradicate poverty without including PWDs. Therefore, AAN is involved in different set of activities concerning disability issues.

5. Action Aid International thematic objectives

* To enhance people with disabilities socialisation process and mainstreaming them in development by creating positive attitude towards disability.
* To organise campaign and advocate in partnership with different stakeholders and rights holders groups and organizations for the rights of people with disabilities.
* To build the capacities of people with disabilities to claim their rights and entitlements from society and state.
* To support people with disabilities to be self-reliant through social, economic and medical rehabilitation.

6. Strategies

* Creating awareness to the rights of people with disabilities by utilising all available means, mass and mediums of Information, communication and education.
* Mobilising people with disabilities to be organised by assisting to create a network of self-help groups and to get rightful assistance from the state.
* Supporting to establish and strengthen the mechanism to bring all stakeholders together to work closely in disability theme.

7. Immediate actions

* Activities related to social, economic and medical rehabilitation is planned to enable people with disabilities to lead a dignified life.
* Attempt to cooperation among partners and other organisations to create a donor consortium on disability.
* Collaboration with other concerned organisation to launch the organisational campaign of self-help groups at local level.
* Collection, translation and developing of legal instruments and advocacy materials.
* Developing a media strategy with manual for extensive multi media campaign.
* Establishing a clearinghouse and information centre.

8. Short Term Out comes

* The rights of people with disabilities to education, accessibility, medical services will be initiated even in the remote part of the country.
* The participation of people with disabilities in decision making forum will be increased even in the VDC and DDC levels.
* Disability issue will be heard in the mainstream of the development by several organisations.
* Awareness and acceptance of the rights based approach to disability will be increased among all stakeholders including people with disabilities
* An effective network of local self-help organisations of people with disabilities will be built up.
* Adequate laws and policies to address the disability will be in places.
* A mechanism will be developed to publish an annual status report on disability which will enhance the capacity, transparency and transparency of rights holders and stakeholders.
* A clearinghouse and information centre will be established.

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