Committee discusses penal action for parents of children with disabilities who neglect them

Accra, Jan. 26, GNA – Members of the
Technical Committee reviewing Ghana’s Disability Law are considering
introducing penal actions to parents of children with disabilities who neglect
their children by virtue of their disability

At the sixth Technical Committee meeting for
the Review of Act 715, members of the committee were divided about the issue
with some blaming parents who neglect their children with disabilities as
irresponsible while others defended the parents saying there is no support
system for them.

Mr Alexander Bakole Williams, representative
of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) was of the opinion
that no matter the lack of a supportive system and environment parents of
children with disability had no excuse to for instance lock up their children
in the rooms or hide the children by reason of their disability

Citing examples, he said: “I will not be
able to leave my eight year old regular child all by herself for even one
hour”, children with disabilities have rights which should be respected and
parents who were found maltreating their children with disabilities should be
severely punished.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the
Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme for
families raising children with disabilities, on the other hand said parents
should not be blamed for maltreating their children with disabilities

“Usually, mothers are left alone to struggle
and fend for their children with disabilities with no form of support from
government or the societies, these parents especially mothers need to earn an
income to be able to take care of these children.

Mrs Awadzi who is also a member of the
Technical Committee urged the committee members to consider the mental health
and the total wellbeing of the mother before thinking about any penal action
for neglecting or maltreating their children with disabilities.

“A child with disability’s wellbeing is
totally dependent on the mother’s wellbeing” she added

Ms Esther Akua Gyamfi, Executive Secretary
of the National Council on Persons with Disability, said the new Disability Law
is supposed to provide solutions to the already existing challenges faced by
persons with disabilities.

“Under the new law we expect to have a good
support system for parents who give birth to children with disabilities
therefore we will not expect that any parents will lock their children up to go
and work because the facilities will be there for them,” She added.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social
Protection, last year, inaugurated a Technical Committee to review the Persons
with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) and prepare an accompanying Legislative
Instrument.

The Committee was constituted amidst demands
from civil society to have a disability law that is of international standard
and in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities.

GNA