AFRICA/TOGO - Protect children with disabilities from cultural traditions that marginalize them

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lomé (Agenzia Fides) - Fear, shame and deep-rooted cultural traditions, continue to marginalize disabled children in Togo, as in much of the continent, who are often ridiculed, locked up, hidden and neglected, cutting them off from normal life and exacerbating their situation. Even their family make fun of them. In Togo, according to Christian Blind Mission (CBM), an international organization to assist the disabled, out of a population of six million inhabitants about 378 thousand children are disabled. In smaller villages, such situations are magnified by the reactions of neighbors forcing the disabled to remain locked in the dark to avoid being seen, mocked and insulted for their deformities. On the occasion of the recent celebration of African Child Day a warning was launched not to neglect disabled children, discriminate or use violence against them. In fact, in Africa, the disabled continue to be excluded from the rest of the children. Only a small part attend school and few of them receive the education they need. Changing entrenched cultural traditions of the country is very difficult, but the families whose children have been helped well know that they should not exclude them from everyday life. Only when mentality changes things will improve for these innocent victims. In 2011 the Government of Togo ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and is aware of the difficulties the disabled face, however, it must still determine serious measures to help counter the popular belief. In Africa, between 5 and 10% of children with disabilities, primarily due to genetic causes and complications during childbirth, for diseases such as polio, measles, meningitis and cerebral malaria, as well as for lack of food and poor health care. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 20/6/2012)