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An estimated one billion of the world's population live with some form of disability. For many, social exclusion, attitudinal problems, lack of employment opportunities and the inability to pursue personal fulfillment are the barriers that make everyday survival a challenge. They are abused, ignored and are considered a burden on society. They are devoid of their rights, and are more prone to stigma.
"The number of disabled people at the society level might seem less, but the truth is that the we never get to see them. Even their family members are ashamed of taking them along to public places," says Dr Arun Mukherjee, director, Udaan, an NGO which cares for people with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome etc.
For many people with disability, physical violence and abuse are a norm. As per UN Enable, a platform for the development of persons with disabilities, a survey conducted in Odisha in 2004 revealed that 25% of women with intellectual disabilities were raped and 6% women with disabilities were forcibly sterilized.
Lack of employment opportunities is another major obstacle that adds to the grievances of the disabled. The employment rate of disabled people has actually fallen from 42.7% in 1991 down to 37.6 % in 2002 according to a 2007 report by the World Bank.
Despite the Supreme Court giving a green signal to the law mandating 3% reservation for physically challenged people in government jobs in October this year, the implementation leaves much to be desired.
However, where there are shadows, there must also be light. People with disabilities across the country have not given up hope. Many have started businesses, are helping spread awareness through education and achieved success in various fields. To celebrate the International day of persons with disabilities, we look at five such inspiring individuals.
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