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Disability rights and protection committee must be activated

  • Published at 04:05 pm November 21st, 2019
Journalist and social rights activist Nasrin Shawkat, along with others, at a media brief at the Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia hall of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday, November 21, 2019 Courtesy

She urged the people to work for people with disabilities along with the government

The National Council of Disabled Women (NCDW), a rights based organization that works for differently abled women demanded the establishment of “disability rights and protection committee” in every district and upazila.

Nasrin Shawkat, journalist and social rights activist, came up with this demand while reading out her keynote statement at a media brief at the Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia hall of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday.

“There are about 20 million people with disabilities in the country. Even though six years have lapsed since the Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act 2013 was passed, visible development of the under-privileged is yet to be seen,” she said.

She claimed that the absence and inactivity of committees for disabilities’ rights and protection in most areas of the country is responsible for keeping the differently-abled away from development.

She placed a report of seven “district level committee meeting” statistics where the Dhaka district committee had failed to arrange any meeting in six years of its establishment, adding that: “Members are unwilling to arrange meetings.”

“Committees in Kushtia, Barisal, Pabna, Rangpur and Tangail districts arrange quarterly-meetings at least once and a maximum of three times. But there was less opportunities for discussion since multiple meetings were taking place at the same time,” she added.

“Members of the Chittagong district committee have been having meetings regularly for only a year. However, the committee members were not conscious enough,” she said.

Some district committees and most of the upazila committees were not formed until 2018. She also claimed that meetings at national or local level committees are not organized regularly as well.

“One of the main reasons for this is that members of these committees are important government officials. They are always busy with their regular duties. Apart from these duties, they are not getting enough time to work for people with disabilities,” added Nasrin Shawkat.

Mahfuza Zesmine, special correspondent of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha said: “In the last few days, we discussed about the onion price hike but not regarding differently-abled people. Such a mentality deprives them of their rights.”

She urged the people to work for people with disabilities along with the government.

Nasima Akhter, president of NCDW said: “There is no actual count of differently-abled people in this country. Government statistics suggest that the number is around 15.5 lakhs, while the World Health Organization said it is about 10% of the country's population. Therefore, the correct number of people with disabilities should be accounted for and facilities should also be provided.”

Hezzy Smith, project director of Blue Law International said that people with disabilities face severe challenges to attain any rights related to care in court.

Individuals cannot apply for compensation against discrimination, nor are the applications disposed. In the six years since the passing of Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act 2013, only five applications have been filed so far for compensation.

According to the law’s definition section, “Upazila Committee” refers to a committee established for every Upazila to promote the rights of people with disabilities. 

Also, “Committee” refers to ministries to town-level representatives. Gradually, the committee has expanded from the national level (ministry) to the executive committee of ministry, district, upazila, city, and town levels.

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