Jakarta – Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Susana Yembise has urged lawmakers to include articles mandating access to public facilities for disabled people as they deliberate a draft bill on people with disabilities.
Yohana said that access to public services and transportation for disabled people in the country remained low, with even lawmakers and the government turning a blind eye to what disabled people really need.
According to the minister, most public infrastructure, including government buildings, ignore safety and security principles for disabled people.
"I will try to convince them that accessibility should be the main concern of the bill," Yohana said in a seminar commemorating the International Day for People with Disabilities, which falls every year on Dec. 3, Wednesday.
The bill follows the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and will replace the current 1997 Disability Law that many consider ineffective and outdated. The House of Representatives aims to see the bill passed into law by the end of this year.
Yohana wants all ministries and related lawmakers to sit together to perfect the bill and make sure that it covers all the needs of disabled people. "We have to discuss this together because disabilities are a cross-sector responsibility," Yohana said.
Presidential office staffer Jaleswari Pramodhawardani acknowledged that most ministries took an outdated approach to infrastructure development that was inherently unfriendly to the needs of the disabled.
"They still use the old mindset in dealing with disabled people and sometimes can't coordinate well," Jaleswari said.
Yohana went on to say that the bill in its current form overlooked disabled people's right to an education. She pointed out that, even today, many schools across the country rejected disabled students.
She added that even when disabled people received a good education, they faced hurdles in higher education, especially when applying for scholarships.
The National Coalition of People with Disabilities has proposed to the House Commission VIII overseeing religion, social affairs and women's empowerment, that the bill stipulate that all education institutions must accept disabled students.
The coalition has also recommended that the bill oblige all companies to give disabled people the same job opportunities as non-disabled people and provide any facilities they need.
However, the House has ignored those proposals and gone ahead with its own version of the bill, arguing that the proposals were too detailed for inclusion in government regulation (PP).
"The lawmakers and the government still consider the disabled among social problems and have failed to recognize them as elements of the country's development," said Maulani A. Rotinsulu, the head of the Indonesian Women with Disabilities Community (HWDI), which is a member of the coalition.
House Commission VIII member Ledia Hanifa said that it was not simple to put all of the recommendations they had received into the draft, given they had to finish it as soon as possible.
"We can't miss the deadline. We have to finish and submit it first. We will then discuss the details directly with the President," said the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician. (foy)