Children with disabilities are the world’s most exposed and vulnerable group, as declared by the United Nations.
The implications of this tragic reality are far reaching and identify children with disabilities to be more entitled to and deserving of dramatic developmental intervention and equity measures than any other group.
Their heightened vulnerability is also attributed to the fact that they are poor. (Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of disability). This double jeopardy of being disabled and also poor means that they are victims of compounded marginalisation.
Worldwide disabled children are excluded from even the most basic opportunities and freedoms; opportunities and freedoms other children take for granted. They are denied their most basic rights, live on the fringes of society, are stigmatised and discriminated against while they are significantly more at risk than children without disabilities to abuse (including rape and sexual molestation), neglect and exploitation.
The criminal violation of the rights of children with disabilities relegate them to a sub-human status, which should be intolerable to society and provoke social action on a mass scale to compel lethargic governments to protect and promote these children’s rights as prescribed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). How is it possible that our collective conscience as humanity is so numb that we are mere passive spectators of the inhuman treatment of children with disabilities? Children who are denied their right to an education and as such depriving them of any future prospects and hope; children who are denied essential assistive devices, like wheelchairs, depriving them of any semblance of movement, mobility, functionality, independence and freedom; children who are denied quality health care, rehabilitative and therapeutic services and
children who are denied access to justice as victims of abuse, because they are deemed “unreliable witnesses”.
And how can we stand by and watch how they are basically expelled from life and mainstream society because of numerous barriers (structural and attitudinal), preventing access and inclusion for not only children with disabilities, but persons with disabilities in general?
We need action, strong action and action without delay. Millions of lives are at stake.