By Sheshu Babu
Atrocities on women are increasing day -by- day and they are struggling to cope with gruesome attacks by male. Disabled women, especially visually disabled, are all the more disadvantaged and their handicap is being used as a convenient condition for assault and exploitation.
In Bhopal, a 53 year old visually impaired woman was allegedly raped by an unidentified accused inside her house in Shahpura area (“Visually impaired woman raped in Bhopal, Family stuck in Rajasthan amid lockdown”, updated April 18 2020, punemirror.indiatimes.com). The woman, a bank officer, was asleep and alone when the unidentified raped her.
This is an example to expose vulnerability and precarious situation faced by visually disabled women. It is not only difficult for them to be alert to the situation but also extremely difficult to identify the person and inform anyone -neighbour or the police as the accused finds easy routes of escape.
Such attacks are becoming common. Some decades ago, visually impaired women rarely came out of their houses and took up jobs outside their household. Hence, many attacks remained either unreported or they were brushed aside as these women could not come out and report to anyone on the heinous attacks on them. Their lack of education also became an impediment which added to their woes.
While blind men had access to some visual aids, many women did not have access to even Braille materials. But advanced technology has given them a great opportunity to educate themselves and get admission in reputed institutions, pursue higher studies including research and seek jobs in Banks, Civil services, Universities, etc.
As their entry into such fields started increasing, their challenges to counter the male dominated too became complex and vital for their survival. The misogyny, assault and harassment extended to visually disabled women . I
One of the major challenge is related to the physiological and psychological condition of visually disabled women. Women who are visually impaired or blind may face specific stressors related to their physical borders in addition to the stressors that those who are not physically limited face (“A study on Mental Health of Visually Handicapped Women”, Journal of Social Work, Education and Practice, by Malaiyandi Mahalakshmi, Alagappa University, and Velusamdyr Madasamy, Alagappa University, www.researchgate.net). Findings of the study points out that visually impaired have poor adjustment and low mental health. They also face low family and social acceptance.
Thus, they need to have good counseling on their condition and their mindset should be moulded in a positive way. Visually impaired women should be taught how to use their tactile, hearing, voice and mental skills to protect themselves from persons of malicious intentions.
Modern technology including cellphones should be made available and they must be educated how to use them in case of urgent help. Women with low or no vision should be given adequate protection by society and government both at h ome and office or place of work.
In case of attacks or attempt to rape, these women should be given ‘alarm bells’ so that they can seek immediate help.
A vigilant and responsible neighbourhood is essential to nab culprits and protect visually impaired women.
Thus , visually disabled women face many challenges as they try to gain foothold in a deeply patriarchal male dominated society. They have to tackle family problems on one level and social problms on another level while working. More and more women are trying to be independent financially as well as socially. They are braving all odds to become successful in life.
The visually disabled only need positive and encouraging attitude from their families and friends and colleagues at place of work so that they can have stress- free life and enjoy their work.