Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peru: Transit discrimination case highlights obstacles against the disabled

The above video shows the farcical case of a government building in Bogotá, Colombia that has a wheelchair accessible entrance but only stairs to reach offices on the second floor.

On Tuesday we commemorated the twenty-first anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by featuring a video with disability rights advocate Kathy Martinez. She explained that the ADA has helped remove obstacles that have hindered the social progress of the disabled. Nevertheless, she also noted that there are “invisible” barriers related to “fear” and “stereotypes” against the disabled in the U.S.

According to a report released this year by the World Heath Organization and the World Bank, negative “attitudes” on the disabled (like those Martinez pointed out) is one of the many problems facing people with disabilities around the world. Latin America is no exception to this as noted in an article published yesterday on the website of Peruvian daily La Republica:
A court sentenced a bus driver and conductor with a two-year suspended sentence and a civil damages fine of S/. 200 (Ed.- roughly $74) for discriminating against a physically disabled person in Arequipa.

According to the city’s ombudsman both people denied entry to the woman after arguing that her wheelchair “took up too much space”.
Local disabled rights activists and officials that this case can bring attention to discrimination against disabled users of the public transit system in Arequipa and throughout Peru. "The scourge of discrimination perpetuates an environment of exclusion against those who are perceived as different and even inferior, affecting the fundamental rights of citizens and society as a whole," observed Gisella Vignolo of the Arequipa Ombudsman's Office.

It’s worth noting that some progress has been made in countries like Mexico in order to promote the rights of the disabled. Furthermore, several Latin America and Caribbean have signed and ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But there are still too many obstacles faced by the disabled in the region are including a lack of employment opportunities. They have endured an uphill struggle against social and economic inequality, a struggle that will continue for many years to come.

Video Source- via YouTube
Online Sources- La Republica, The Latin Americanist, World Heath Organization, NACLA, El Universal, UN Enable

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