A video recently surfaced on mainstream media. It shows a bus conductor in Lahore torturing differently-abled children on the bus. This person was hired by the school specifically to look after them but he seems at peace with the way he is treating them.
The video of the bus conductor torturing special needs children hit social media and there was an uproar against the conductor’s behavior
As a result, the Ghalib market police launched an FIR. The accused was arrested along with his accomplice on Friday and produced before court. They have been charged under the section on children protection and threatening.
The victims are the students of “Gung Mahal School for the Deaf and Dumb”, a government run institution, in Lahore
Children are the most vulnerable in our society. They deserve to be looked after more because adults still have the agency to differentiate between right and wrong.
According to a study compiled by Sahil, an organization working against child abuse, the average number of children abused in Pakistan per year is around 3500.
Even within this category of children lies a group which is not talked about much. This is the group of differently-abled children. These disabilities range from intellectual to physical. This includes ADHD, autism, dyslexia, Down’s syndrome, blindness, deafness, and several others.
Special needs children belong to the some of the most marginalized groups in Pakistan
There’s no policy framework adapted in a manner, at any level of government, which accommodates them. Everything is designed and planned according to the “normal” standards of the society. This means that these kids are ignored on every aspect and the society and its policy framers live oblivious of their presence.
This is largely because of stigmatization and severe ignorance in case of understanding of the plight of those with special needs
There is a dearth of support for people of both, physical and mental, special needs. People here believe that such children are a curse. This problematic belief deprives them of a healthy life and they are always considered as a burden. And all of this reflects in our legal structure as well.
In 1981, a law on the rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities was passed. However, there is no legislation which deals with the issue in detail.
This new incident should serve as a reminder of where we stand and how we as a community react and respond to disabilities. A sheer apathy to the situation is something that needs to change.