Following a report of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, 2014, women’s rights activists are now demanding a sub-section for disabled women in the amended bill.
Activists from Mumbai this month made a trip to New Delhi to advocate the need for a separate section for women in the law for disabled persons and met officials of the Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Health.
“The bill and the recommendations are currently under consultation in each state. The Karnataka consultation happened two days ago,” said legal activist Amba Salelkar. The bill has so far not been tabled for discussion in the monsoon session of the Parliament.
In 2014, following protests by activists the Rajya Sabha had appointed a committee to submit its recommendations on the draft bill, that will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. One of the clauses stated that the consent of guardian is sufficient for terminating pregnancy of a disabled woman without her permission.
The Standing Committee, in its recommendations submitted in May this year, suggested to remove the bill’s clause, under Section 105 (F), stating: “..the right of consent for such women should not be taken away as it affects their dignity.” Additionally, the committee also suggested to create a sub-section for women and children under the disability act.
“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) through its article 6 makes a separate emphasis on women with disabilities,” said Nidhi Goyal, Mumbai -based disability and gender rights activist. She recently came across a visually challenged person in Gujarat whose father was giving her birth control pills without informing her. “Because of the misconception that women with disabilities will always give birth to a disabled baby, and also that they are not fit to be mothers with regard to child care, their reproductive rights are greatly impaired,” she added.
While the latest census data suggests 2.2 per cent of the population is suffering from disability in India, the UNCRPD claims the percentage might be is higher. The Standing Committee has now proposed to include 19 conditions under the disabled category, including type I diabetes, blood cancer and kidney failure.
With the recommendations now under deliberations in each state, social activists claim that under gender disability section they hope to get a provision for accessible toilets and better employment opportunities for disabled women.