Has it ever crossed your mind to ask yourself why some people have been ostracized in the Ghanaian society? Talking about ostracization, I’m very sure one may be wondering about the group of people. It’s about the physically challenged.

I always feel sorry when I see how the physically challenged are treated by the able in the society. Many Ghanaians do not regard these physically challenged in the society and their attitude towards them underrates their dignity as human beings. However, the society fails to realize that it is no fault of theirs to be in that condition and that the able can also be victims of such conditions. Most disabled find themselves in such conditions by nature or by accident.

Unity is always being preached in our society but the society practices otherwise by depriving the disabled of their rights. Due to the opinion the society has about the physically challenged; some family members shun their siblings who are disabled avoid so-called embarrassment. Meanwhile article 29(1) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana has made it clear that ‘disabled persons have the right to live with their families or with foster parents and to participate in social, creative or recreational activities.”

However, these physically challenged have contributed much to the society. One can talk of Peggy Ama Donkor, a journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation who has won awards on environmental reportage. Another disabled is Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah who paddled on a bicycle with an amputated leg in a competition. These examples explain best that the disabled have talent and contribute to the development of the society.

According to article 29(4) of the 1992 Constitution, “disabled persons shall be protected against all exploitation, all regulations and all treatment of a discriminatory, abusive or degrading nature.” Also article 12(1) of the same Constitution states that “the fundamental human rights and freedom enshrined in the fifth chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature and judiciary and all other organs of government and all its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural legal persons in Ghana, and all shall be enforceable by the courts as provided for in this constitution.”

The problem of the disabled being ostracized in the society can be solved by empowering them through educating them on their rights. Again, parents who through no fault or design of theirs give birth to disabled children should love and care for them as they would their able children especially. They must show them affection, especially so during festive occasions as Christmas when all other children are pampered.

Finally, religious groups should provide an avenue for the disabled to feel part of the society. Disability is not a liability, and should definitely not be an inhibition to the exhibition of one’s talent. Society must not avoid the physically challenged, but love and care for them to feel part of the society.

Credit: Kwabena Adu-Gyamfi
Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra.