Law of persons with disabilities should be truly protective

TEHRAN – For the first time in a decade, a law was passed in 2018 to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, however, the question is, has it been effective and fully enforced by the related bodies?

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is annually observed on December 3, to promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and to take action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development.

This year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be commemorated on November 30-December 4, in conjunction with the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The theme this year is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 World”.

In Iran, Majlis [the parliament] approved both general outlines and details of a bill on the rights of persons with disabilities in January 2018. Development of disability-friendly cities, free transportation, health insurance, free education, job creation, housing loans, and fewer working hours are some of the articles of the law.

Since the approval of the law, education for students with disabilities have been provided in universities, subsidies for patients with spinal cord injury as well as disability care centers have been increased, he stated, adding, 1,057 residential units will be provided to families having members with disabilities next week.

Two years ago, a budget of 120 trillion rials (nearly $2.8 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials) was proposed to fully implement the law, however, only 11 trillion rials (nearly $260 million) was allocated.

Asghar Shirzadi, chairman of the board of the Iranian association of the disabled, said that it still seems that the related organizations are not very willing to implement the law.

Referring to the employment or livelihood assistance for the disabled, he said that based on the law, state-run organizations were obliged to allocate 3 percent of their job vacancies to the disabled people, or the government pays a living allowance at the rate set by the Ministry of Labor. However, these rules were never enforced.

Their living expenses are so high that it is really hard to afford. Besides, coronavirus has exacerbated the situation, he noted.

Although works have been done to make cities more accessible to people suffering from disabilities, the accessibility of the public transport fleet should have been completed years ago, while now only 25 percent has been adapted.

For example, the Municipality of Tehran appointed the disabled as consultants to assess the urban projects, through which no urban or construction project will be allowed to operate unless it is approved by consultants in terms of being accessible for the disabled, he explained.

And senior managers of ministries, governorates, and state-run organizations have thought of following the same procedure, he added.

As per another article of the law, eligible individuals can receive free education both at public and even Azad universities, but the related organizations are reluctant to follow the rule, he lamented.

The law on pensions for the disabled was not implemented by the Social Security Organization, he said, adding, for example, based on the agreement between the Welfare and the Social Security organizations, it was decided to pay the insurance share of the disabled instead of the employers who hired them. But this law is also left undone.

All responsible organizations should be obligated to implement the law, and the Welfare Organization also must ensure the enforcement, he concluded.

Pirouz Hanachi the mayor of Tehran said last year that over 1.3 million people suffering from disabilities live in the country and the figure rises by 50,000 every year.

Disability prevalence worldwide

About 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, of whom 2-4 percent experience significant difficulties in functioning.

The global disability prevalence is higher than previous WHO estimates, which date from the 1970s and suggested a figure of around 10 percent. This global estimate for disability is on the rise due to population aging and the rapid spread of chronic diseases, as well as improvements in the methodologies used to measure disability.

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