Disabled community suffering in silence
Disabled people suffer from neglect and social discrimination despite Myanmar being a signatory to the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
DISABLED persons in Myanmar suffer from government neglect and social discrimination despite the country being a signatory to the UN convention on rights of persons with disabilities, according to the findings of a study to be presented to the global body by year-end.
People with disabilities in Myanmar are not given tax breaks and discounts in public services and are not provided with the opportunities and services accorded to normal people, according to the findings of a joint two-year study by the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities and Myanmar Disabled People Organisations.
Persons with disabilities cannot get equal opportunities as the result of inaccessibility to public transportation, public buildings and places, said the study.
“Mainly, there is deterioration from every side although there are laws, nobody takes the responsibility to ensure equal protection and opportunities are accorded to the disabled persons,” Ko Zaw Lin Htun, the research manager of the report, told The Myanmar Times.
The research for the report was done in five regions and 5 states in the country.
The study also showed that women with disabilities suffer from more violence and sexual abuse than women without disabilities.
“More than violence and sexual abuse, they lose legal justice in many cases. Ritual beliefs, traditional practices and habitual attitudes and behaviours such as degradation, underestimation, over-protection leads persons with disabilities to be discriminated, and they cannot enjoy the equal communal environment as persons without disabilities,” the report said.
According to the 2014 census, the total population of Myanmar is 51.4million and there are 2.3 million persons with disabilities or about 4.6 percent of the population.
A National Disability Survey showed that 52pc of persons with disabilities do not attend school, and only 1pc can access to higher education.
A UNICEF report noted that 67pc of the children with disabilities are out of the formal education system, and do not attend school. Normal schoolchildren drop-out rate is 11pc, thus, there is a significant gap between them.
As early as December 2011, the government has already ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In 2015, the country enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law, but since then the implementing rules and regulations has yet to be released.
As a state party to the UN Convention, the initial report to the committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in accordance with Article 35(1) of the Convention, was submitted by the government on November 17, 2015.
“The government submitted its initial report to the UN. We are going to submit our report to the UN soon – they will compare the two reports, and produce recommendations for the government,” U Aung Ko Myint, who is visually impaired and chairman of the Myanmar Federation on Persons with Disabilities, told The Myanmar Times.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, the focal ministry for the people with disabilities, said it has already set strategic plans and was ready to come out with the implementing rules and regulations for the 2015 Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law.
Daw Yu Yu Swe, director of the Social Welfare, has said that her office has already embarked in educating the public about the rights of disabled persons.
“All people should also consider those with disabilities in every aspect of their lives. At present, there is no access for disabled persons in public places,” she said.
U Aung Ko Myint said, “Every person needs to be able to live his or her life fully. I request one thing to the government and business owners to give every person living with disability a chance to live a full life just like any other normal person.”
A file photo shows a disabled man in a wheelchair trying to get on to the pavement outside Ruby Mart on Bo Gyoke Road in Yangon. The country still lacks disabledfriendly infrastructure.