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Youth and Disabilities

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The world has evolved considerably  since the last decades in terms of technology, standard of living and overall facilities, unfortunately mentalities have not evolved regarding disabilities. They face different kinds of discrimination at various levels social, economic, and civic inequality as compared with those without any form of disabilities. For many young people with disabilities, they encounter difficulties concerning education, economic opportunities, exclusion and even abuse in some cases. The problem seems to be even more predominant in undeveloped countries. UNESCO estimates that 98% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school and 99% of girls with disabilities are illiterate. Youth with disabilities do not enjoy the same human rights as those people who do not have any disability. They constantly have to fight for their rights.

One should ponder how these issues crop up and tackle them at the root. An overview is essential to be able to establish long term solutions. It has been noted that, there has been a dramatic increase in pregnancy among youth as from age of 13 in Mauritius. They are still kids themselves, they are far from being mature to raise a child, pressured by relatives they often opt for abortion. The cheapest form of abortion is taking pills, if the pregnancy is not terminated and the child takes birth, both the mother and the baby run the risk of having health problems resulting in disabilities. Later the child may have ear problem or various kinds of deficiencies resulting in the drugs taken at that time for the abortion.

 

Youth itself can be a contributing factor, as young people are at an increased risk getting injured hence getting a disability through such incidents as road traffic accidents, injuries from diving and other sport activities, violence and warfare regions. Statistics from several countries show that the incidence of spinal cord injury is highest among youth.Youth have traditionally been since ages involved in wars and conflicts in different part of the world – it has been reported by the UNICEF that approximately 250,000 individuals under 18 years of age are participating in armed conflicts, over 300 million youth live in countries affected by armed conflict and warfare regions face a constant risk of violence, abuse, and injur

 

                   Boghosian autismhouse13 LIFE

 

In many places, there are considerable societal stigmas imposed on families with young members with disabilities. In certain societies, people have misconception that disabilities are punishment for past sins or signs of a curse. This leads to exclusion of the youth in the society and many are kept are home, away from everyone’s eyes.  These retrograde mindsets are more prevalent than many people may think.  This adversely affects the person with disabilities, rather than feeling empowered to come forward and make a difference, they are heavily marginalised.

Concerning education, there are many surveys which demonstrates that youth with disabilities are often unfairly deprived of education, leading to restricted opportunities for further education, employment, and income generation. In many countries it has not yet been understood that Education is a basic right. Some families do not feel that youth with disabilities should receive an education, often believing that young people with disabilities are incapable of learning. There are specialised schools for youth with disabilities in Mauritius which offers a more appropriate and customised form of education for different who need other pedagogical methods to learn .Around the world, through the course of time, many artists, athletes, or scientist had forms of disabilities yet some still to this day believe that people with disabilities are not capable?

 

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When it comes to employment, youth with disabilities often have to face many barriers for multiple reasons either its due to lack of qualifications and skills, or they are qualified but they do not find their place in the employment section. In Mauritius, there are around 50,000 persons who are registered as having disability and 4,500 of them are employed according to statistics. A major problem that youth with disabilities have to face is transport. We do not have vehicles with features like ramps or lifts for wheelchair access, adapted chair supports. This transport problem also limits the access of both disabled children and adults to health and leisure facilities. Even with a good education, young women with disabilities take a longer time to find a job, being unjustly discriminated against.

Companies are reluctant to hire youth with disabilities, basing on prejudices and because they do not have the required facilities or the skills to handle these kinds of situations for example they fear that person will have issues like adaptability to colleagues, facilities available and work environment. But it’s a matter of education, of mentality, of willingness to adapt to others. The law should be clear about this; no person should be left out because of their disabilities. Governmental agencies and NGO should be strict to enforce equality. According to the Training and Employment of Disabled Persons Act 1996, employers need to hire disabled person in its workforce.  There are some youth with disabilities who are recruited by companies but they are not given the right environment to show express their personality, talents and skills, to what extent are they happy at their workplace? Do they have the same rights like others or are they respected by their colleagues? Youth with disabilities are sometimes offered contract works but what will happen to them or their family when the contract is over? The state should have a specific framework for them, to ease their life, special regulations for more protection. Consequently, households with members with disabilities generally have lower incomes than other households, this creates a cycle and poverty is often the result.

As far as Mauritius is concerned there is still evidently a long way to go compared to the facilities that are available in developed countries. These facilities require investment from all the stakeholders involved.  The policies can no longer be merely a reference document but must become a reality and also the mentality of people needs to be changed, this is not an easy task, but the journey of a thousand of steps begins with one step. People with disabilities should have equal rights, equal chances to succeed at life, we must make sure than all chances are put on their side. We will never amount to a fair world if people who face physical or mental challenges are not cared for or given the right to express their personality and have a good shot at having a great life. 

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Arshad Dewkunkhan is Editor at Mauritius Yellow Pages, aged 25, resident of Rose - Hill. Former student of the St Joseph college with a formal education at College and University in Business Side.   Arshad is an avide reader, manages several Social Media pages, a football fanatic and loves spending time by nature.  

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