Disabled Girls Excluded in Tajikistan

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When Nigina Ikromova goes out and about in her wheelchair in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, she is irritated by the reactions she gets from people in the street.

“They just see the disability and offer me one somoni or five somonis [20 cents or one US dollar],” she said. “When you don’t need it, it’s annoying. I tell them I don’t need their money.”

Ikromova has a university degree, and now works with disabled people and their families.

She is the exception, though. Experts say women with disabilities in Tajikistan have limited opportunities because of widespread social prejudices, and have a much tougher time than their male counterparts.

“When a girl is born with a disability, they don’t even show her to anyone, they don’t say anything. Generally only the immediate relatives know about it,” Galina Yunusova of the Ishtirok NGO said. “She ends up shut away at home. She doesn’t go anywhere or see anyone, and just does household chores. So she has no chance of marrying… let alone getting an education.”

As well as concerns about disabled girls in particular, Tajikistan has a long way to go in terms of providing disability access in public spaces, and shifting the focus of policy to keeping disabled children with their families rather than placing them in institutions. Experts say addressing these challenges will become easier if Tajikistan ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Zarina Ergasheva is an IWPR-trained radio reporter in Tajikistan.

The audio programme, in Russian, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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