An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
THE callous exploitation of disabled persons by able people as objects for economic gain through sham, coercion and duress is thriving in Papua New Guinea.
Since the PNG government’s announcement of social security benefits for disabled people last year, disabled groups are springing up, most initiated by opportunists.
These chancers mobilise and force disabled people to offer them money and pigs with promises of financial returns.
They force them to march and even sleep on the streets to gain attention from public and government.
There are designated days in the year that people with disability advocate their rights in public, not just any time causing public nuisance and disturbance.
Most disabled people are illiterate and vulnerable and able people are taking advantage of their ignorance and vulnerability to pursue their own selfish interests.
Disabled people are human beings and have the same rights that are enjoyed by able people. Their dignity, freedom and independence should be respected.
Article 3(a) of the general principles of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons ratified by the PNG Government in New York last year states: “The principles of the present Convention shall include respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons”.
Contrary to this, in PNG able people are taking photos of disabled people and using them to gain financial benefits from government agencies and donors under the pretext of helping them.
They even claim to own disabled people.
At a recent AusAID funded disabled people’s workshop conducted by PNG National Assembly of Disabled People at the Catholic Resource Centre in Kundiawa (pictured), two able people (a male and female) who were supposed to be observers forced themselves into discussions and, in a heated argument, each claimed to own 5,000 disabled persons.
The scurrilous pair have been collecting money and pigs from disabled people them promising them financial returns.
The disabled people have become the mince meat in the sandwich in this tug of war.
How on earth in this 21st century can people claim to own other human beings? This is total insanity and amounts to slavery and disrespect for the rights of people with disability.
Disabled people are sick and tired of able people using them and gaining finances to build palace and empires for themselves.
They may be disabled but they are capable of contributing meaningfully to the development of their community and country.
All they need are opportunities and empowerment so that they could become agents of change and make a difference in their community.
It is hoped that as people in authority and areas of influence become thoroughly informed of the needs and aspirations of people with disability then, appropriate steps will be taken to create conducive environment and programs to assist them to live productive and meaningful life.