What comes to mind when you hear the word “disability?” Wheelchairs, canes, Seeing Eye Dogs, handicapped signs, mental illness, deafness… Images and thoughts, more often than not, that imply the person lacks something – is less than a person, even less than human.
The disabled—correction—persons with disabilities—struggle with stigma and a long history as being objects of pity, ostracized by mainstream society, and seen as needing to be fixed. And as shocking as it may seem, even in the human rights arena, people with disabilities are often left on the sidelines and forgotten.
Now is the time for a paradigm shift – we need to actively challenge our perceptions of disabilities. Research tells us that 10% of the world’s population lives with a disability – that’s 650 million people on this planet with a disability! Yet in many societies, cultural barriers and myths about disabilities don’t allow for basic human rights to be extended to people who are seen as less than human.
A clearer picture emerges when looking at human rights violations through a “disability lens”:
- Developing countries are home to an estimated 80% of persons with disabilities.
- UN statistics also show that 82% of persons with disabilities live below the poverty line.
- Approximately 20 million women become disabled each year as a result of complications during pregnancy and child birth.
- Women with disabilities are two to three times more likely to encounter physical and sexual abuse than women without disabilities.
- Between 2.5-3.5 million of the world’s 35 million displaced persons live with disabilities.
But in December 2006, the balances began to shift in favor of people with disabilities. The United Nations adopted the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and optional protocols. The CRPD essentially closes the gaps between human rights issues and people with disabilities. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST