The Disability Rights Initiative has been taking an active role in bringing to the forefront issues and concerns of WwDs, who remain a very invisible minority within the women and disabled groups in India. Along-with other organisations, we have been working towards their right to equality, non-discrimination, inclusion, participation, right of choice and safety from violence.
In furtherance of this DRI has joined the Women with Disabilities India Network that was formed during a meeting organised on the subject by the Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC), Bhubaneshwar on 1st October 2012 in Delhi. This particular meeting was organised to identify and classify the critical areas of concern for WwDs, which could then be presented at the meeting being organised by NAWO in order to prepare the India Shadow Report under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). DRI also participated as a member of the team that made the presentation on the issues of WwDs at the NAWO meeting on the 2nd of October 2012 and is also actively involved in the preparation of the chapter on WwDs that will be included in the both the summary and the main Shadow Report to be presented before the CEDAW committee.
We were also part of the group that made a representation on the vulnerability of WwDs being victims of sexual abuse and the hurdles faced by them in the criminal justice system before Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and member of the Justice Verma Committee on the 14th of January, 2012 at Delhi. The Justice Verma Committee that had been formed to look into the criminal laws after the 16th December 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, took note of our submissions and included them in its report. Most of the submissions for changes in the procedural laws have been included in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 that was made on the basis of the Justice Verma Committee report. These amendments mainly include videography of the statement and testimony of disabled victim, provision for an interpreter or special educator in communicating with the disabled victim and for the police to go to victim instead of it being visa versa.