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Opinions Sat, 1 May 2004

Delays In Disability Rights Laws In Ghana

These few words are meant to add to the voices of People with Disabilities in Ghana. As researchers in the field of disability and social work, we have been following closely developments in relation to disability rights laws in Ghana. It is commendable that the Ghana Homepage since its inception has taken up issues pertaining to people with disabilities in Ghana. However, it appears discussions on such issues often end up in appeals and exhortations to government and parliament to expedite action on laws to protect the interests of people with disabilities.

From all indications our countrymen and women with disabilities seem to have exhausted the democratic options available to them to voice out their grievances. Even threats by leaders of associations of people with disabilities to boycott the national registration exercise and refrain from voting in the forthcoming election seem not to bother the government and our honourable members of parliament.

Considering the extent to which other countries in the world have embraced the idea of protecting the interest of their citizens who face various challenges because of their disability, we find it difficult to understand the reluctance on the part of Ghana to initiate policies that can alleviate their plight so as to help them participate more actively in society.

Since the inception of our present constitution, which clearly emphasises the need to put in place disability rights laws, the governments and lawmakers of Ghana seem only to have paid lip services to this fundamental issue. While laws per se do not make implementation of disability rights automatic, it may constitute the first bold step in the process of eradicating or minimising societal devaluation of and discrimination against people with disabilities, and in so doing empowering them and promoting their social inclusion. We think it is high time our honourable President, Speaker of parliament and MPs lived up to the expectations of the downtrodden in our society, most of who are forced by circumstances within society's control, but beyond their own control, to spend days upon days in the scorching sun begging for food and money.

Dr. Alexander Kwesi Kassah
Department of Health and Social Sciences,
Harstad University College, Norway.
AND
Mr Moses Kuvoame (Sociologist),
Alcohol and Drug Addiction Service City of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Kassah & Kuvoame