Dispel the Belief that Disabled People Are that Way Because of Witchcraft

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Chairperson of the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN), Martin Tjivera, has expressed disappointment over some cultural beliefs that link disability to witchcraft. Although the majority of people have knowledge about the importance of accepting and maintaining human dignity regardless of a person’s physical appearance, negative attitudes towards people living with disability are displayed every day, according to him. As a result, people with disability find it difficult to mingle with other members of society. “Disability is to a large extent linked with witchcraft, incest and karma in the rural areas countrywide. We in the Disability Movement are saddened by the fact that some parents of children with disabilities still hide their children for fear of discrimination,” he stated. He appealed to all parents with children who live with disability to stop hiding them and restricting their freedom of movement. He pleaded that these children be sent to school, as this is the only way they will be empowered or the future. “People with disabilities in Namibia need to be well educated and start using resources to their advantage,” he said. Currently, the majority of this population is vulnerable to many socio-economic challenges such as illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and HIV/AIDS infections. This in turn has hampered them from participating fully in the activities of the Namibian society. Tjivera said that although these people might have some physical disability of sorts, they hunger for participation in matters pertaining to the country’s political, economic and social development. As such, there is a great need for advocacy work, mobilization and awareness campaigns. The NFPDN also condemned the Ministry of Health and Social Services for allegedly and purposefully delaying for more than a year the establishment of the National Disability Council. He added that more than 85ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 567 people are awaiting the establishment of the National Disability Council (NDC) to which the NDC bill was approved in Parliament in 2005. “We in the Disability Movement in Namibia deserve answers as to why such things are happening without our consent or consultation. We appeal to the ministry to speed up the process of establishing the NDC without further delay”, Tjivera lamented. Efforts to seek comment from the ministry proved fruitless.