SEVERAL disability rights organisations, women’s organisations, survivors and legal experts sat together in a convention on November 25, against sexual assaults on girls and women with disabilities. Organised by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) this was the first time a convention at the national level was being held to discuss and focus attention on issues and concerns of disabled women in the matter of sexual assaults.
More than 150 delegates from various states took part in the convention.
The convention was inaugurated by noted women’s rights activist Kamla Bhasin, who pointed about intersectionality and the various dimensions of the women’s movement. She said that it is important that women’s organisations who have not paid much attention to issues concerning women with disabilities would now raise their issues.
Speaking on provisions of various laws were Advocate Kirti Singh, Advocate Kumar Shailab, Prof. Shilpi Bhatacharya. This session was chaired by noted disability rights activist and author Prof. Anita Ghai.
A few survivors also recalled their experience in dealing with the police and the legal system and the hurdles that they faced in accessing these systems.
Disability rights activists Kumari Vaishnavi (Bihar Viklang Adhikar Manch); Shalini Khanna (National Association of the Blind); Anil Joshi (Parivaar), Shalini Rana (Human Rights Law Network), S Namburajan (Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all types of Differently abled and their Caregivers), Meenu Mani (Delhi Viklang Adhikar Manch) and representatives of various disability rights groups spoke on the challenges that they face while dealing with such cases.
Non-implementation or faulty implementation of the provisions of various criminal laws was leading to the miscarriage of justice, they observed. This session was chaired by NPRD joint secretary, Shampa Sengupta.
In another session, representatives of women’s organisations who spoke pledged support to the issues raised by disability rights organisations and assured to take these issues on to their agenda. Among the speakers were Sudha Sundararaman (AIDWA), Annie Raja (NFIW) and Vani (Saheli). This session was chaired by Indu Agnihotri (CWDS).
The convention concluded with a resolution being adopted outlining the challenges and the measures that need to be taken to overcome them.
Below we publish the text of the resolution
This national convention against sexual violence against women and girls with disabilities notes with concern the increasing number of cases of sexual assaults against girls and women with disabilities, especially those lodged in institutions.
This convention is appalled that despite provisions in laws that address concerns of disabled girls and women, such provisions are not being implemented properly.
This convention expresses regret over the lack of awareness and insensitivity of the law enforcement machinery and the judiciary with regard to issues concerning women with disabilities
This convention calls for proper implementation of provisions contained in criminal laws, POCSO and RPD Act governing sexual assaults on women and girls with disabilities; education and training of professionals at all levels regarding provisions of laws and issues concerning women with disabilities; establishment of credible monitoring mechanisms, with visitation rights to oversee the functioning of institutions housing disabled women and children
This convention demands that the National Crime Records Bureau maintain disaggregated data of violence against women with disabilities; allocation of adequate budgetary support for training and sensitisation of the law enforcement agencies at all levels; strengthening of rehabilitation measures for survivors and adequate allocation for schemes formulated for this purpose
This convention resolves to unitedly work with disability rights organisations and the women’s movement to take this agenda forward.
Admission of Persons with Specified Disabilities to MBBS Course
MCI Guidelines are Discriminatory: NPRD
THE National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), a disabled people’s organisation having affiliates in 14 states in the country, has sent a letter on November 28, to the secretary, Medical Council of India (Board of Governors), in response to the public notice of November 16, 2018 seeking suggestions on the MCI guidelines on the admission of persons with specified disabilities to MBBS course.
NPRD letter said it is indeed surprising that the last date for submitting both the responses to the draft guidelines as well as the NEET-UG test happen to be November 30, 2018. It is perplexing as to how eligibility or ineligibility can be decided on the basis of “draft” guidelines and an exam conducted on that basis.
As for the draft guidelines, NPRD notes that these are not just blatantly discriminatory but in complete contravention of not just the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 but also of recent judgements of a few High Courts and the Supreme Court pertaining to admission of disabled candidates in MBBS courses.
As for guidelines pertaining to specific categories of persons with disabilities, NPRD endorses the suggestions/amendments proposed by Doctors with Disabilities: Agents of Change, submitted vide their memorandum of November 26, 2018.
In the light of the above, NPRD has urged upon the MCI to amend the guidelines taking into consideration the suggestions made as also best practices abroad. It said this should be both in the spirit of the RPD Act as also the directions of the Supreme Court. It goes without saying that all stakeholders, including doctors with disabilities, organisations working among the disabled as also students be consulted in framing the guidelines afresh.
NPRD demanded that in the meanwhile, it would be in the interests of all concerned if the last date for submission of applications for the NEET-UG 2019-20 is extended by at least a month after the MCI BoG comes out with revised guidelines. Simultaneously, candidates with disabilities who might have already registered by the current last date of November 30, 2018, should be given an opportunity to reconsider their applications.