Hey guys,

I stumbled across this article and thought it would be great to share it with you!

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Oi galerinha,

Aqui vai um artigo na qual achei muito interessante, e prova que as leis não cumpridas não adiantam de nada.:) O texto esta em Inglês.. mas garanto que todo mundo tem um bom tradutor 🙂 não??!!



That Jeeja Ghosh was forced off a plane in spite of always having travelled on her own shows India’s attitude to people with disability, writes Mithu Alur

The values of egalitarianism, of social justice and moral ethics are embedded in a larger framework of value systems. In India we are a far cry from such values. Disability, for example, is not an individual’s private problem, it is a social problem and the country’s responsibility. After four decades of work in this country, the major concern that emerges is that though India keeps briskly signing international declarations and working on legislations, neither does operationalization take place, nor is it serious in its intent to bring people with disability into the mainstream. Disabled people today are left out of schools, out of organizations, out of communities, shunned and kept apart. The event concerning Jeeja Ghosh that happened recently sharply brings into focus the plight of disabled people in this country and the callous treatment meted out to them because of the inadequate protection of their rights. This attitude of the government permeates the way society at large sees disabled people — easy to ignore and occasionally to trample on, as exemplified by the pilot’s behaviour to Jeeja Ghosh.

We at Adapt (formerly the Spastics Society of India) had organized an international conference on inclusion, the only conference on inclusive education held every three years, except that this one was held after seven years. It was entitled the “North South Dialogue IV”; it was fourth in the series of conferences and was organized in Goa. There were representatives from 20 countries, but nobody from the government of India except a senior administrator from human resource development. The conference focused specially on people with disability, their families, and on countries in the South facing huge systemic and institutional barriers. We were talking about all that had been done in our countries to remove systemic barriers.

It was an insult, therefore, in full view of representatives of 20 countries, that one of the disabled participants on her way to the conference was asked to disembark. That was a gesture that confirmed the wider malaise that exists in this country, of continuing discrimination and apartheid, because there is no serious intent to include disabled people in our societies.

Jeeja Ghosh, a 40 plus woman with cerebral palsy was invited as one of 15 national and international resource persons to review an Indo-German project that was being showcased at the conference. Jeeja is a double MA, with one in disability studies from Leeds University, United Kingdom. However, in this great country on February 19, Ghosh was thrown out of a private airline flight at the Calcutta airport by the pilot on the grounds of disability. Apparently the crew had reported to the pilot that Ghosh was flying without a carer, and the pilot decided to ask her to get out of the plane. On a television interview with me, the pilot stated that he thought that Ghosh was mentally unstable and this would affect the passengers.

Ghosh tried to convince the authorities that she was a frequent flyer and has travelled all over the world alone. She even rang up her organization and its members confirmed this, but the crew and the pilot were rigid in their decision. The captain refused to fly the plane until she disembarked, even while the calls made to her teachers at the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy fell on deaf ears. Ghosh was made to get off the plane in front of all the passengers. Not a single passenger questioned this. Never before had she been so humiliated before a plane full of people and told to get off even after she had got her boarding pass. This kind of emotional stripping down of one’s dignity is an outrageous violation of human rights. What does it say about our culture and our laws?
The irony was that she was coming to a conference on inclusion, the conference’s main aim being to push for ideas and policies that lead to the inclusion of everyone, including people with disability in the country.
Thus when this happened to Ghosh, that too while we talked about all the positive things that were happening, the incident brought into sharp focus the systemic failure, the discriminatory mindset and the cultural oppression of disabled people in this country, and the areas where we had failed, where the government had failed, and what still needed to be done. To see her go through this plight became emblematic of everything that was happening to other people in the country. If this is what was happening to a double MA globetrotter, imagine what might be happening to the millions of other Jeeja Ghoshs (there are close to 100 million people with disability in India and they are without a voice).

As a professional and activist who has worked for 40 years for disability, engaging with the government and delivering much-needed services, I felt deeply let down (with a great bitterness and rage consuming me). I found this incident to be hugely humiliating.

And the question that plagues me is, what is the government doing about it? The commissioner for disability has written to SpiceJet, the airline concerned, and begun an inquiry. Apart from this there has been complete silence: no comment from the minister of social justice and empowerment, nothing from the government. Although the media are often blamed for not doing their duty, they are not praised when they indeed do an exemplary job, as in the case of Ghosh. Because Ghosh was coming to our conference, we were tracking her movement as our car was to pick her up at Goa airport. We therefore immediately alerted NDTV; they took it up immediately; the incident became breaking news. The Telegraph also took it up and it became a story. CNN-IBN did a panel discussion on the issue even as The Hindu uncovered the case of Anjali Agarwal, another woman with disability who had to go through the same ordeal with another private airline.
In the course of the next few days more instances of the high-handedness of airlines and the complete disregard for civil aviation rules became manifest. What needs to be asked at the moment is, what can we do to prevent these, and other such incidents, in the future?

In 1893, a puny little lawyer travelling with a first-class ticket in South Africa was thrown off a train in a similarly humiliating fashion. This small, seemingly insignificant incident became the catalyst for the man then known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to evolve into Mahatma Gandhi. It is now the turn of the Jeeja Ghoshs, the Anjali Agarwals, Nilesh Singits, Malini Chibs and many others to emulate the Mahatma’s example and lead the nation from the darkness of apartheid — here the discrimination against people with disability — into the light of equality and inclusion in Indian society.

Again, the need of the hour is to move to a broader approach. Examine the systemic failure that continues to oppress disabled people in India. We will now support Ghosh in moving the Supreme Court in a writ petition being filed by the Human Rights Law Network, to examine what ails our jurisprudence that episodes such as the one faced by Ghosh remain unpunished. Also, what ails the government of India, the regulations of civil aviation and the airline companies which continue to flout all conventions and abuse human rights in this country? We also propose that Article 15 of the Constitution be examined so that it would prohibit discrimination on the additional grounds of ‘disability’ (which is absent now). Various remedies will be sought but principally regulations and exemplary punishments for violations.
Restitution will be sought for Ghosh and others like her who have suffered at the hands of airlines; exemplary punishment will be meted out to those who continue to abuse the basic human rights of persons with disabilities, and effective guidelines that will ensure that such events do not happen and that airlines are put on notice for violation delivered.

Just last week the American courts levied a $2 million penalty on Delta Airlines for violating air carrier regulations concerning travel by persons with disabilities. It is time this was done in India to set an example.
The author is founder chairperson of ADAPT (formerly The Spastics Society of India)

The above article has been taken from


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