Disability and Culture,  Disability Stereotypes,  Education

African Culture and Disability, Experiences of People with Disabilities: Part Eight.

Misleading and harmful beliefs and practices about disability can have effects on all spheres of life of the disabled persons and this can even extend to their families. These kinds of beliefs and practices obstruct the ability of the disabled people to fully enjoy their fundamental and inherent rights and freedoms, and also hinder them from taking part in the society hence marginalization that blocks them from partaking in the development on an equal basis with other members of the general population. Things like stigmatization of disability and the disabled, negative attitudes and flawed beliefs about disability in general can lead to stigma, which may be said to be an attribute possessed by an individual or a group of people that is regarded as undesirable or discrediting.

For people with disabilities, in most cases stigma results in a lowering of status within the community leading to the feeling of being less humans. On the other hand, stigma causes discrimination against a person with a disability or even their families or someone associated with a person with a disability.

Discrimination experienced as a result of having a disability is defined in the Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities as any distinction, exclusion or restriction based on disability which has the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with other people in the society of all human rights. This covers all forms of discrimination directed to one for having a disability regardless of the source of discrimination whether cultural or socio-political. This also extends to those associated with the disabled persons like; family members and other carers.

As a consequence of stigma and discrimination, people with disabilities end up facing exclusion and dehumanizing treatment in all areas of their lives including but not limited to; work places, healthcare services and educational institutions.

The beliefs and practices from the African cultures that dehumanize the disabled people objectify them leaving them with internalized oppression and feelings of shame. This has led to the formation of disabled person’s organizations and peer groups by the disabled to confront stigma, this often happens on a regular basis but still, persons with disabilities face great challenges in overcoming the negative views of their community or societies to achieve self-acceptance and a sense of pride in their lives. In developing countries, which happen to be low income countries, beliefs that are held about the causes of disability are attributed to nature, punishment, breaking of the cultural laws, evil spirits and so forth. This goes to an extent of blaming the victim for having caused the disability on themselves or even improper family relations like infidelity, incestuous relationships and breaking of the social moral codes.

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