By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The Chairman, Christian Council of Nigeria, Enugu Chapter, Archbishop Christopher Ede, has called on the federating states to domesticate the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018.
He made the call while presenting the keynote address at a training for religious leaders on protecting and promoting sexual and reproductive health rights of women with disabilities in Abuja yesterday.
Ede, who doubles as the Methodist Archbishop of Enugu, noted that it became imperative to adopt the law in order to amplify visibility and access to justice for women and girls with disabilities, particularly those suffering discrimination and stigmatisation.
The then Disabilities Bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 23, 2019, following 9 years of relentless advocacy by disability rights groups and activists.
Ede cautioned that excluding women and girls with disabilities from sexual and reproductive health is a human right issue that is related to both gender and disability.
“For people with disabilities (PWDs), I want to request all states should domesticate the law on disability. I also ask that in all the states, this law should also be made known to the PWDs and enforced in their behalf. The problem with most people with disabilities is that they are ‘invisible’. Majority of them, because of the stigmatisation culture in our society, are withdrawn and unable to demand the enforcement of their rights,” the Archbishop said.
The National General Secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Very Rev. Evans Onyemara called on faith leaders to work towards including persons living with disabilities in the church.
He said, “The Christian Council does not take the issue of persons living with disabilities with levity. We have put all efforts available into making further commitments to running a more inclusive church where all are catered for including people with disabilities.
“We want church leaders to promote sexual and reproductive health rights of women with disabilities. Often times, we think that people who have disabilities are not entitled to good sexual life and shouldn’t bear their own children, because nobody should marry them.”
Speaking also, Ms. Esther Mwai, the representative of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network in Nairobi Kenya, lamented the neglect of PWDs by stakeholders, especially in Africa, saying they are being denied rights to health care and good living.
“The rights of women with disabilities are typically denied when they go to the hospital and demand for sexual and reproductive health services on the basis of their physical challenges. Women with disabilities have wombs like others and are able to also procreate,” Mwai said.