‘Over-protectionism marring life of visually-impaired women’

January 07, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:52 am IST - TIRUCHI:

Writer Ambai addresses the gathering at a workshop on ‘Reproductive and sexual health rights ofvisually-impaired women’ in Tiruchi.— PHOTO: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Writer Ambai addresses the gathering at a workshop on ‘Reproductive and sexual health rights ofvisually-impaired women’ in Tiruchi.— PHOTO: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Some rarely-discussed problems related to visually-impaired women were the highlight of a day-long workshop organised by the Bharathidasan University’s Department of Women’s Studies on its Khajamalai campus on Monday.

Titled “Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights, Challenges and Vulnerabilities of Visually Impaired Women in Tamil Nadu,” the workshop’s concluding session had writers Ambai and Ravikumar in attendance as special guests, besides Leema Rose of Holy Cross College and Radha Bai of Government Arts College for Women, Pudukkottai.

While sharing her own experience of working with the visually-impaired with the audience, Ms. Ambai stressed on the need for a more inclusive atmosphere in both policy-making and societal interaction with regard to differently-abled people. “They don’t want our pity, they need their legal rights,” she said.

“For this we must give them opportunities and education.”

Research scholars Shylett Moni, Ilavarasi, and Chandra presented the collated results of the primary sessions held earlier in the day, based on the responses of 30 local visually-impaired men and women participants of the one-on-one interactions and group discussions.

The sessions had divided participants into single men, married couples, and single women, and questioned them on aspects related to their reproductive and sexual well-being.

Some of the other issues that emerged were the second-class treatment accorded to the blind within their own family that deprived them of their right to inherit property, study or even marry.

The results concluded that over-protectionism and a chronic disregard of their individuality by both State and family were marring the life of visually-impaired women.

Commenting on the finding that many parents with visually-impaired girls had opted to surgically remove their daughters’ wombs early on in a bid to ‘save’ them from menstruation in maturity, writer Ravikumar said, “It is sad that while normal women are expected to bear children, the differently-abled do not have a say over their femininity.”

Ms. Radha Bai, who is visually-impaired, urged differently-abled persons to stay positive. “Historically, we have been told that the disabled are only worthy of derision.

But today, we have shown that we can be as successful as normal people. Differently-abled are more self-confident today,” she said.

N. Manimekalai, Director, Department of Women’s Studies, Bharathidasan University, and researcher Poonkothai spoke.

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