Women on wheelchairs call for equitable rights for all

March 7th, 2012 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, March 7 (IANS) Over 1,500 people, from commoners to socialites, Wednesday came out to support the spirit of womanhood on the eve of International Women’s Day as 100 women on wheelchairs brought out a solidarity march to protest discrimination of the differently-abled.

Organised by ADAPT - Able Disable All People Together (formerly Spastics Society of India), the protest was sparked off due to the offloading of a teacher and disability activist from Kolkata, Jeeja Ghosh (who has cerebral palsy) Feb 20, from a SpiceJet flight. Two days later another woman, Anjlee Agarwal (with muscular dystrophy) was also thrown off a Jet Airways flight.

“There can be no true independence for woman as long as people don’t have the right to travel. How can we celebrate Woman’s Day when this is happening to almost 15 percent Indians who have some or the other form of disability,” said Malini Chib, Chairman - ADAPT Rights Group and a friend of Ghosh’s.

These women and supporters of the cause held placards of solidarity that read “You Don’t See What We Can Do”, “Who’s Disabled - We or You”, “Women on Wheels are Women of Steel”, “SpiceJet, Jet Airways: Shame On Your Ways” and “Stop Discrimination In The Name of Disability.”

Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson - ADAPT, explained the need for the solidarity protest. “It is shocking that women with disability - be they with hearing, visual or physical impairment - are left out of almost everything, including women’s movements,”she said.

Alur said that there is legislation in the country but despite this, Ghosh was thrown out of a SpiceJet flight and a couple of days later Agarwal from a Jet Airways flight.

“What is the point of legislation if there is no enforcement,” she asked.

Also present at the event were prolific director and screenwriter Shyam Benegal and industrialist Yash Birla who signed a pledge to support the cause.

“Everyone has some or the other disability, visible or hidden. Yet why is it that we consider people with a visible disability to be so different from us? It is important to ensure that they are not relegated to dark corners of our society but are part of the mainstream alongside all of us,” Benegal said.

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