Working with women with disabilities in rural areas
Nita Panchal, who works at the Gender and Disability Center in Gujarat, led us through issues they regularly face while working with women with disabilities in rural areas. Post that, Nidhi Goyal helped us bust some prevalent myths around the sexuality of people with disabilities.
Nita Panchal became a paraplegic post the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat. She dreams of making an autobiographical film one day. She currently works with Women with Disabilities (WWD) at the GDC in Gujarat. Her session today is on gender and disability in rural India. She says that starting the program for WwD in rural India was a struggle for a number of reasons, including people’s lack of reception, and the fact that women with disabilities are abused and exploited by their caregivers and are often trapped in difficult circumstances because they are not financially independent.
She tells us about Laxmiben, a hearing impaired woman who faced issues during her pregnancy due to malnutrition, whose child was also born with a disability. Her parents blamed her for this entirely. However, on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, speech and hearing impaired women and orthopedic women are employed as surrogate mothers. Rekha Chauhan, from the Mahila Swarojgar Samiti in UP. echoes these thoughts as well.
Next, Nidhi Goyal discusses myths around disabled women and their sexuality. Some myths the participants had heard were “turmeric milk is good for sex drive” and “disabled mothers produce disabled children.” After some myth busting, the session concluded with a fantastic film on body literacy, titled “Main aur Meri Body,” produced by Agents of Ishq.