Muted voices will now have a patient ear. Shehnaz Virji (33),a hearing impaired lady has come back to her homeland after 31 years to understand the socio- economic problems of the hearing impaired women in India and help them overcome it.
Virji was born with hearing disability in Kenya to Indian-origin parents. Due to her disability,her parents shifted base to Los Angeles to ensure that she received proper education. After securing a double bachelor degree in Liberal Science and Child Development from California State University,Northridge,Los Angeles,she is now in Gujarat to understand the various issues that affect women with hearing impairment in the state.
Virji will be in India till November. She will begin her research from Vadodara and subsequently expand her scope of study to include the entire state and many other states. The educational situation here is very different. After meeting them,I realised how they live in a groove; and due to the lack of proper formal education,their expression and communication is very poor, said Virji through an interpreter.
Virji will be helped by the Muk Badhir Mandal in her research to reach out to women in rural areas as well. Most women are exposed to education very late. Their families are also not quite interested in educating them. The standard of education is not good,as the teachers stress on cramming rather than making the students learn, said Rajesh Ketkar of the Muk Badhir Mandal.
According to Virji,lack of proper education and shallow government policies are reasons behind the sorry state of womens condition. In other countries,the hearing impaired are counselled,educated and helped by highly qualified people who are themselves hard of hearing. This brings in empathy and better understanding,which is completely missing here, said Virji.
She added that while hearing impaired people in Western countries are becoming teachers,nurses and even lawyers,those in India are doing jobs of making candles and tailoring clothes.