Stigma Still A Reality To Persons Living With Disability In Yei

Stigmatization of people living with disability among the communities in Yei still remains a challenge.

Stigma Still A Reality To Persons Living With Disability In Yei
Persons living with diability during celebration the International day for persons living with disability, in Morobo County [Photo by Modi Gilbert]

By Modi Gilbert

YEI, 17, January 2016 [Gurtong] - Persons affected by disabilities face forms of stigma that have an impact on their lives.
Apayi Zabibu is visually impaired. She is the assistant inspector for gender and social development for Yei Municipality.

She says awareness campaigns have been conducted to sensitize communities in Yei about how people living with disability can freely live and interact with the community members just like any other person.

She however, decries that in their assessment after the awareness sensitization only about 30-40% of the people understand about the rights of people living with disability.

“Stigmatization is a big challenge, where someone just looks at you and begins may be laughing at you” said Apayi.

She added that most of those who are physically challenged end up having nick names from the people in the community.

Stigma is a universal set of trauma; and therefore, a great number of people living with disability due to the stigmatization are traumatized.

As such, the assistant inspector said, many people living with disability have lost self-esteem and have isolated themselves from the community

“It makes them to really lose hope in themselves” she said “it really affects them; it makes them isolate themselves from others because when someone just calls you like that you just feel you are different from others.”

She adds “and sometimes you don’t feel like going to the community just because people are going to call you names and they are going to laugh at you.”

She continued “so the only thing is, for you to keep yourself at home and do other things that you can do at home. That is why many people with disability do not socialize with others just because of stigmatization.”

According to Apayi, it is not easy to turn the stones and let stigma disappear in the societies within a shorter period of time.

Rights of persons living with disability

A person living with disability has to enjoy equal rights like any other person.

They have right to; suitable education,   employment, respect of dignity, public utility……………among others, According to the transitional constitution of the republic of South Sudan, 2011.

Nevertheless, the assistant inspector said at least some of these rights have been violated in the societies, education institutions, government and the private and public sectors.

She said in most cases, parents do send only the abled children to go to school living those with disability home with beliefs that persons living with disability are unable to perform better in school and have no ability to write and read. An act she views as a violation of the right of the persons living with disability.

“Right to education, I feel the communities still are not aware about it, they still feel that persons with disability cannot go to school (because)  they cannot write (as well as) read, that it is very hard for them to obtain these rights,” said Apayi.

“For example some parents just feel that a child who is visually impaired cannot read and write and someone who hearing is impaired cannot hear so it is useless for that child to go to school.”

Though the constitution clearly states that there should be observation of the right of people living with disability as far as employment opportunity is concerned, on the contrary, many job advertisements indicate that one must be “physically fit.”

According to the assistant inspector for gender and social development it is a disappointment.
“It is so disappointing when I hear about the adverts that tells us that we need people who are ‘physically fit’ ”she said” you know when you say ‘physically fit’, obviously it makes a person with disability who is crippled automatically to be knocked out.”

She suggests that “when people are writing their adverts they need to make sure that they put; ‘persons with disability are also encouraged to apply‘, then there it will give way out to persons with disability to apply. But when you just say that ‘physical fit’ and you don’t put something to convince people with disability to apply for that job obviously they just feel that they have been neglected, so it is so painfull.”

Equality before the law

There are a lot of barriers to people living with disability before the law, due to either neglect from the people who are supposed to help them or the lack of trained experts in the judiciary who are to handle cases of persons living with disability.

“Persons who are deaf, when they go to the police may be they want to raise a problem they are unable to do it just because the police themselves are not trained in sign language, so they are unable to manage such cases” Apayi said

 “So it means wherever someone has done something wrong to such a person, then the person is unable to take that person to court because there is no one to sign the information to the police and to the person.”

More so, Apayi disclosed that even the justice system does not take the cases of those who are physically challenged seriously.

“We don’t see so much attention on issues of; if someone has done something wrong against the person with disability is like the laws are not taken so seriously,-for example, a girl with disability who is impregnated by someone may go to the court and sue the person (who impregnated her) but the issue may not be taken seriously. Said the assistant inspector

Adding “but if it is someone who is not having any disability the issue will be taken seriously and the law take its action. So I look at it like the law is not fair to people living with disability.”

Unclear budget line allocation

People with disabilities have consistently risen complains of unclear budget allocations for running their own activities.

Their budget lines are usually included in the vulnerable group of people.

Nonetheless, they said a big share is given out to other groups of vulnerable people living them with the least amount.

 “The highest percentage of the help is going to other groups of people, leaving out the people living with disability” the visually impaired  assistant inspector reveals “the government takes care of the orphans, takes care of the women forgetting taking care of the people living with disability.

She is requesting the government to separately allocate the budget to people living with disability.


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