Urging the ruling AL government to take actions to implement the law for persons with disability in its entirety, human rights activist advocate Sultana Kamal on Wednesday said the allowance provided for the physically and mentally challenged citizens of the country is not sufficient.
“Each person with disabilities is given a monthly allowance of only Tk 700 which is by no means enough. Moreover, the local representatives of their respective areas take the first six months of their money in their pockets as a ‘fee’ for the allowance card. They now need to be brought under cleansing operations,” she said.
She made the comment at a press conference about the implementation of ‘Protection of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act- 2013’ arranged by National Council of Disabled Women (NCDW) with support from Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and USAID at Jatiya Press Club.
Sultana Kamal in her speech as the chief guest alleged that various media use demeaning words to identify a person with disabilities which should be stopped.
She also mentioned the country’s development is not reflected in the lives of its citizens.
"We have gone on the highway of development, become a role model of development... but with development have we been able to move humanity forward in the same rhythm? Have we been able to keep up with civilization?” she questioned.
The ex-adviser to the last caretaker government further said the evil of corruption still lurks in the country.
"Development means we have only roads, big projects… in which it takes Tk 14,000 to buy pillows and Tk 7,000 to buy pillow covers. We have reached development in corruption, where we have made tremendous progress,” she said.
Sultana Kamal complained that although the Prime Minister's intention was to protect the handicapped, officials were reluctant to implement it.
“When the Protection of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act- 2013 was passed, no one could see the initiative to implement that law but when it came to cancelling quotas they were abolished instantly when she (Prime Minister) declared,” she said.
She also mentioned that government should take action against other corrupted sectors, as they did against casinos.
“University students are being beaten, people are being treated unfairly, power is being robbed, and banks are being scammed. But here we are not talking,” she added.
Speakers discussed the stages of compensation application and settlement under the Rights and Protection of Individuals with Disabilities Act.
NCDW President Nasima Akter mentioned it is disappointing to see the government failing to implement the act. “In the last six years, no progress has been made. In fact, we are far behind,” she said.
According to the World Health Organization statistics, the number of people with disabilities in the country is 5.7 percent of the population.
Speaking on the occasion, the speakers commented that the development of the country is not possible without the development of people with disabilities.
NCDW General Secretary Sajeda Akter presented the keynote paper while Blast's research adviser Tajul Islam and President of Bangladesh Women’s Journalism Center Nasimun Ara Haque also spoke.
On July 2 last year the government formed the seven-member committee to review the existing quota system in public service.
In April 2018, students of public and private universities across the country waged a strong movement demanding reforms in the quota system in public service recruitment process.
In the face of the movement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced in parliament on April 11 the abolition of all types of quotas in government jobs.