Regional News of Wed, 14 Jan 20040

Preliminary studies on disabled women launched

Accra, Jan. 14, GNA - Mrs. Patricia Baffoe, the Vice President of the Women's Wing of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf on Wednesday said government should make special provisions for people with hearing impairment to enable them to contribute to national programmes such as the People's Assembly.

Mrs Baffoe, who was critical of the organisers of the recent Peoples Assembly, said disabled people had a right to contribute to the development of society.

She said, it was sad that provision was not made for people with hearing impairment to question the President and contribute to the programme.

Mrs. Baffoe was speaking at a ceremony where preliminary research findings on women with disabilities were disseminated. The research was conducted by Ms. Denise Nepveux, a postgraduate student in disability studies at the University of Illinois in the United States.

Mrs. Baffoe was also critical of the National Council On Women And Development and the Media for not making information accessible to the disabled, especially those with hearing impairment.

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The study, being carried out in Accra among 75 women with physical disability, forms part of Ms. Nepveux's contribution to the African Decade for Disabled Persons, (1999-2009) and it is being funded through a Fullbright Fellowship from the United States government. According to Ms. Nepveux, some preliminary findings showed that people with disabilities were sometimes thought to be a kind of spirit beings, or were disabled because of a curse.

She said women with disabilities were often left with little or no information on marriage, relationships and reproductive health issues and therefore were often victims of sexual abuse and broken relationships.

Ms. Nepveux said the study found out that most of the women were single parents as a result of the bad deal handed down to them by so-called lovers who rejected them after impregnating them. Dr. Akosua Darkwa, a Lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Ghana, said generally women were discriminated against even "right at birth, where a male child is considered a human being while the female is thought to be not quite human."

"This situation then makes women with disabilities worse off since they have to contend with much more than being just female." Dr. Darkwa said there was no proper documentation on women with disabilities although other studies have been carried out on other issues affecting women.

There were calls from many of the disabled people present for greater access to facilities being enjoyed by able-bodied people. An appeal was also sent to the government to engage the services of persons with disabilities to teach in basic schools after they acquired training in handicraft and other skill training programmes.

Source: GNA

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