Nepal is a small country situated between China in the North and India in the south, east and west. It is a landlocked mountain country. Nepal is known as one of the poorest country in the South Asia Region. Approximately 40% of Nepalese live below the poverty line of US$12 per person/per month (NHDR, 2004). Poverty in Nepal remains at endemic level. It is deeply ingrained into the lives of people who are poor, disadvantaged and marginalized section of the society. Disabled people remain one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Nepal. People with Disability form one of the most politically invisible and under-represented constituencies in Nepal.
A person with disability is the most marginalized group of societies universally. People living with disabilities, fifteen percent of the world’s population is among the poorest of the poor and frequently living on the margins of society. The Asia and Pacific region has by far the largest number of people with disabilities in the world (PSIS, 2002). Most of them are poor, their concerns unknown and their rights overlooked. The status of the disabled in the developing and the least developed countries is more vulnerable than in the developed countries. Being a least developed country in Nepal, the disabled are deprived of their basic human rights.
Disabled persons are handicapped not because of their disability, but because of the lack of access to information about their rights, entitlements and procedures to access the entitlements says Victor Cordeiro of Action Aid’s disability unit. Negative attitudes towards disabled people surrounded with institutional and environmental barriers result in the discrimination and exclusion of this most marginalized section. Disability on any country will show lower rates of education, much higher rates of illiteracy, and much lower rates of economic activity among the population. Simply, many are so excluded and separated from their own society that they are no longer treated as respected “citizens” of the society.
The constitution of Nepal clearly states the equality of people irrespective of their cast, religion, race and sex, ethnicity and ideology .But the deep rooted belief in their karma in the former life the PWDs are still looked down upon and the patriarchal culture subscribes a low status to women. Along with this, there are many negative religious and cultural beliefs that, lead to considerable discrimination towards people with disabilities who are often isolated and rejected from their communities. For many, access to health and social services as well as educational and economic opportunities is not a reality!
It is well known, people with disabilities face many barriers to full participation in society. These barriers place them at greater risk of discrimination, abuse, and poverty. Failure to recognize the rights of people with disabilities, by eliminating these barriers to equality, perpetuates the exclusion and poverty that are at the root of so many human rights violations. This exclusion is seen in many different forms, and to different degrees, all over the world. Examples of abuse, violence, poor living conditions and other violations of human rights have been observed and documented all over the world (CCD, 2004).
Nepali People with Disabilities are unanimous in wanting the new laws/policies to be rights based; the laws must have a duty rather than a power base as was previously the case. The laws will no longer simply make provision for People with Disability but will be broadcast as a Right. The new laws should be without ambiguity. The laws themselves should not be gender discriminatory. In addition, there needs to be a strong element of focus on implementation, with a route to a legal process of enforcing them if they are ignored.
Nepal recognized the human rights of persons with disability in the year 1981.Accordinngly it enacted a special law known as the Disabled Persons, Protection and Welfare Act, 1982 (UNICEF 2001).But even after 30 years of existence, persons with disability are often excluded from the mainstream of society and denied their human rights. The irony is that most of these rights remain in law books and have not been translated in authenticity. The disabled people have rights to enjoy the rights that are theirs. Human rights framework will remain hollow if not accompanied by improvements in the economic well-being of disabled people.
Thus, after all, we all are Nepalese. It’s our responsibility or liability to take care of those people. People those who are disabled by birth or have suffered from various trauma aren’t only their mistakes. But, there is also the environment or societies who are equally responsible to take care of those people and take those pitiless natives at a height or climax!!