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Discriminating the Disabled in Sierra Leone

Discriminating the Disabled in Sierra Leone

Although His Excellency the president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has taken the bold step to appoint a disabled, Mustapha Bai Atilla, as Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, the disabled community continues to be discriminated and marginalized.

Disabled people are not treated with the seriousness they deserve; they are often left out of national policy planning processes, making most government policies non-friendly to disabled persons. The disabled deserve the Free Health Care more than pregnant women, lactating mothers and under five children and many of the disabled people who fall under the Free Health Care category cannot access the care due to mobility impediments.

During presidential and parliamentary elections, disabled people are denied their constitutional right to secret voting as they are aided to vote since the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is yet to provide them with braille ballots to allow them to vote in secrecy.

Disabled people are yet to have a cabinet minister to be advocating for them during cabinet meetings. They are not included on the boards of most government institutions, so, they have nobody on those boards advocate for government policies to be friendly to them. Even though most disabled are more vulnerable than most youths, the youths now have a ministry, unlike the disabled.

We are also not comfortable with the fact that there is no desk for the disabled in the office of the president and in the offices of political parties. All the above exclusions clearly buttress the fact that our disabled persons are still suffering flagrant segregation and marginalization, compounded by the vividly negative attitude of most Sierra Leoneans who treat our disabled citizens with overt contempt and scorn.

Whatever their situation, disabled persons are as human as any other citizen of this republic and some of them are better human resources, therefore, why should we keep discriminating and marginalizing them? There is the popular saying that disability is not inability, so, let us include our disabled citizens in all spheres of governance so that they will get the sense of belonging to our society.

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