Disability and Culture,  Disability Stereotypes

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

According to the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. When looking at the main challenges facing the disabled, we find that societal attitudes and environment are the main barriers to persons with disabilities. The real life obstacles that are faced by the disabled are not directly attached to their impairments which include; physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory. Instead, these obstacles come from the environmental barriers that prevent people with disabilities from full enjoyment of life and to unconditional inclusion in society. A good number of these barriers are cultural, religious, social, physical, historical, and personal. People with disabilities seek to be fully empowered to become self-reliant, independent, and equal in dignity to what is commonly called normal people. There is indeed no exceptions given to any form of prejudices or harmful practices that are rooted in any specific culture across Africa.

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Each individual person has equal rights to the culture they subscribe to including the right to fully exercise and also enjoy as well as develop cultural life and identity they feel comfortable with. However, it is a common phenomenon to find that cultural rights are not boundless. This is what contributes to a larger extent to the experiences of marginalization, discrimination and even abuse faced by persons with disabilities with culture as the foundation.  An individual’s right to particular cultural practices have a boundary at the point where they are seen to be abusing other people’s rights as humans. This, on the other hand, means that an individual’s cultural rights cannot be invoked as a means of defense for any action that constitutes human rights violations or abuse of other people’s freedom to enjoy their rights. As it is clearly stated in the international laws, cultural rights cannot be used to give way to practices like torture, murder, discrimination or any of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms established in international law.

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