Members of Voice of Disability Initiative with participants at a-one day dialogue in Lafia.

Cecilia Onah, Lafia

A non-governmental organisation, Voice of Disability Initiative, has lamented the continued discrimination against women and children with disabilities in Nasarawa State.

Speaking at a one-day stakeholders dialogue and capacity building training for victims on Thursday in Lafia, the Executive Director of VDI, Barr. Catherine Edeh, explained that the essence of the programme was to promote the rights and fortunes of persons with disabilities, especially women in the state.

According to Barr. Edeh, women in the society are often discriminated but it becomes double if a woman is disable because most persons with disabilities are not able to help themselves due to their conditions.

She said, “Women with disabilities are being raped and abused in schools, hospitals, homes and offices, and they find it difficult to open up due to fear of stigmatisation by the society.

“If a disabled person, especially a deaf woman is sick and in an emergency situation, medical personnel usually abandon them to their faith.

“This medical personnel often claimed that they cannot communicate with deaf patients and as such, will finish attending to other patients before they will come to them.

“The unwillingness to attend to sick women in emergency because of alleged communication barrier has led to the increase in mortality rate of women with disabilities. So, we need things to change for the better that is why we are here today.”

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She, however, thanked the Nasarawa State government for its efforts thus far in providing and protecting the rights of people with disabilities, while urging the government to do more by monitoring issues regarding to the molestation of disabled women in the state.

“I want to thank the Nasarawa State Government for enacting the Disability Law in 2018 to protect persons with disabilities in the state. But we want more support from the government so that we can be sure that all disabled women and children in the state are protected from every forms of harassment or molestation,” she added.

On his part, one of the Speakers at the occasion, Emmanuel Ozoemena, explained that the VDI was partnering with a wide range of stakeholders including the government, NGOs, development partners, bilateral and multilateral agencies, private sector, and the media to tackle issues affecting women and children living with disabilities.

He added that the VDI with support from the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), a United States based international non-profit organization decided to hold the programme in Nasarawa State which is aimed at sensitizing stakeholders on the need strengthen access to sexual and reproductive health rights of women with disabilities and protecting them against sexual violence

Earlier in his remark, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule who was represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Aishatu Rufai, thanked the VDI for caring for the women and children with disabilities in the state, and promised to partner all organisations who are keen on protecting the rights of vulnerable people in the society.