Members of the Technical Committee reviewing Ghana’s Disability Law are considering introducing penal actions to parents of children with disabilities who neglect their children by virtue of their disability
At the sixth Technical Committee meeting for the Review of Act 715, members of the committee were divided about the issue with some blaming parents who neglect their children with disabilities as irresponsible while others defended the parents saying there is no support system for them.
Mr Alexander Bakole Williams, representative of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) was of the opinion that no matter the lack of a supportive system and environment parents of children with disability had no excuse to for instance lock up their children in the rooms or hide the children by reason of their disability
Citing examples, he said: “I will not be able to leave my eight year old regular child all by herself for even one hour”, children with disabilities have rights which should be respected and parents who are found maltreating their children with disabilities should be severely punished.
Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme for families raising children with disabilities, on the other hand said parents should not be blamed for maltreating their children with disabilities
“Usually, mothers are left alone to struggle and fend for their children with disabilities with no form of support from government or the societies, these parents especially mothers need to earn an income to be able to take care of these children.
Mrs Awadzi who is also a member of the Technical Committee urged the committee member to consider the mental health and the total wellbeing of the mother before thinking about any penal action for neglecting or maltreating their children with disabilities.
“A child with disability’s wellbeing is totally dependent on the mother’s wellbeing” she added
Ms Esther Akua Gyamfi, Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disability, said the new Disability Law is supposed to provide solutions to the already existing challenges faced by persons with disabilities.
“Under the new law we expect to have a good support system for parents who give birth to children with disabilities therefore we will not expect that any parents will lock their children up to go and work because the facilities will be there for them,” She added.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, last year, inaugurated a Technical Committee to review the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) and prepare an accompanying Legislative Instrument.
The Committee was constituted amidst demands from civil society to have a disability law that is of international standard and in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.