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Disabled children also need our support

HAVING a disability is not the end of the world. It is not something to be ashamed of. We are all different and all have different abilities.

It is disgraceful that millions of children with disabilities are denied the best possible healthcare and are made to suffer from conditions which are entirely avoidable.

It is an absolute ignominy that these children’s parents and guardians lack any proper form of support or services.

It is an even greater shame that children with disabilities are then subjected to abuse of their rights and neglect, and as a result a child with a disability is more at risk from abuse and neglect whether it is in respect of social and economic rights, protection rights and civil and political rights.

I look forward to the day where the birth of a child with a disability is greeted with as much joy and hope for the future as is given to a child who is not. And that a unique experience of each child with a disability is recognised as an exceptional gift to the decorum and humanity of us all.

Despite some progress in legislation in the past years, the situation of people with disabilities still remains precarious here in Zimbabwe.

In order to remedy past and present discrimination, and to deter future discrimination, comprehensive non-discriminatory legislation in relation to disability is very necessary. Such legislation should not only provide people living with disabilities with judicial remedies as far as possible and appropriate, but also provide for social policy programmes which enable people living with disabilities to live a self determined and independent life.

Education is an indispensable human right and is vital to the development of the country. Education empowers people, enabling them to be proactive, to control their lives and broaden economical and social opportunities.

The Zimbabwe government claims to be committed to the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All objectives.

The Education ministry is supportive of Vision 2016 that advocates for “an educated and informed nation”.

Despite the above commitments, 75% of children with disabilities still do not have access to education.
People with disabilities should begin to have educational benefits, gainful employment, political representation, social security entitlement, access to public benefits, liberty from torture, abuse and discrimination.

l Leonard Cheshire Zimbabwe Trust.

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