Disability in the World – Still Stigmatised?

When we talk about disability, we often refer to a Western-oriented world. European and
American-style values are prevalent in many parts of the world, but it is important to know that
they are not the norm by any means. There are a lot of situations where people live on the
fringe of society because they have a disability – and it can be hard for them to even get
recognition, never mind the basic support that might help them change their lives.
A notable example of these attitudes towards disability is Pakistan. It is thought that over 14
million people live with a disability in Pakistan, but the way they are treated is far from what
Western sensibilities would call humane or fair. The reasoning for this is well-known – the
society in Pakistan is deeply influenced by social and religious beliefs, which means that people
with a disability are seen as some type of bad omen from God.
Irrespective of whether you believe this particular ideology or not, it has shaped the way that
people in Pakistan are treated in society. From the moment they are born, they face
discrimination and being forced into the role of outcast within their society. They aren’t given any
help or even considered to be entitled to the basic rights and freedoms you would think would
be associated with everyday life. It’s a deep shame but it does happen in places all around the
world.
Ultimately, it is perhaps a concern we need to tackle first if we’re going to usher in any kind of
real change across the world. We have to have a planet which is unified in a desire to help
people with disabilities if we’re going to stand any real chance at making a change. It’s a
thousand times harder to try and fix the problems we face if not everybody is on the same page
about disabilities and how we should treat people who have them.
Perhaps this is where we need to focus our energies. Maybe the big responsibility of this
generation and the next one is going to be to create a world where people aren’t subject to
discrimination and exclusion from society because they have a disability. We understand that
religious and social beliefs do play a role in the way people treat others, but surely any religion
which promotes kindness as a fundamental aspect of its teachings would recognise the value of
supporting people who do have a physical disability?
Ultimately, only time will tell as to whether we can move away from our attitudes towards people
with disabilities in certain parts of the world. They are deserving of more respect than they often
receive, and this is to the detriment of everybody. The only way we can ever have a truly equal
society is to look for ways to help everyone, regardless of who they are, and make sure that
everybody feels seen and respected.

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