Realizing the Rights of Persons With Disabilities in Kenya
The rights of Persons With Disabilities in Kenya are protected by the Constitution of Kenya and other laws such as the Persons With Disabilities Act.
According to the Bill of Rights in the Kenyan Constitution, Persons With Disabilities are entitled to various rights. These include the following: The right to treatment with dignity and respect; access to educational institutions and facilities; reasonable access to all places; public transport and information; the use of sign language, Braille or other appropriate means of communication; and access to materials and devices that will help them overcome constraints arising from their disability.
The Persons of Disabilities Act further emphasizes the rights of Persons With Disabilities, including the right to a barrier-free and disability-friendly environment, access to building, roads, and other social amenities, and access to opportunities for suitable employment.
Kenya also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008, which obliges the State to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of Persons With Disabilities (PWD)
These laws are meant to ensure the full inclusion and participation of PWDs in Society. However, despite these legal and policy frameworks, PWDs in Kenya still face many challenges and barriers to enjoying their rights. These include:
- Stigma and Discrimination: PWDs often encounter negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices from society. These tend to affect their self esteem, dignity and opportunities. They may also face discrimination in accessing education, health care, employment and social services.
- Lack of awareness and implementation of existing laws: Despite the existence of the Constitution and the CRPD, many PWDs and other stakeholders are not aware of their rights and obligations. There is a gap between the legal provisions and the actual implementation and enforcement of the laws. For example, many public buildings and facilities are not accessible to PWDs while many schools are yet to have inclusive curricula and teaching methods.
- Inadequate resources and services: PWDs often lack access to adequate and affordable assistive devices, rehabilitation services and social protection. They also face challenges in accessing quality and inclusive education, healthcare and employment opportunities.
- Poverty and exclusion: PWDs are more likely to live in poverty than non disabled people, due to the barriers and costs associated with disability. They also tend to face social exclusion and isolation because they are often marginalized and neglected by their families and communities. In rural areas, PWDs face even more challenges than they would in urban areas because they have less access to infrastructure, services and information.
- Violence and abuse: PWDs, especially women and children are at a higher risk experiencing violence and abuse, such as physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. They may also face harmful practices, such as witchcraft accusations, ritual killings and forced sterilizations.
The Government can do more to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities in Kenya are fully realized. Here are some of the improvements that can be made.
- Increase the budget allocation and expenditure for disability programs and services: The government should allocate more funds to support the implementation of the disability laws and policies. It should also ensure transparency and accountability in the use of public resources for disability inclusion.
- Strengthen the coordination and collaboration between the different stakeholders: The government should foster effective partnerships between ministries, civil societies, county governments, the private sector and development partners in order to get them to harmonize and align their efforts and resources in helping PWDs
- Raise the awareness and sensitization of the public on disability issues: The government should conduct regular campaigns to educate the public about the rights and needs and potential of PWDs. The government should also promote the positive portrayal and representation of PWDs in the media and other platforms.
- Promote the participation and empowerment of PWDs: The government should ensure that PWDs and their representative organizations are meaningfully involved in all stages of decision making and implementation of disability programs and services.