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Disabled people in Goa accuse authorities of demanding full body pictures for disability certificates

January 16, 2019

Getting a disability certificates is crucial for people with disabilities to avail of benefits and facilities. The certificates are aimed at making life easier for disabled people, but the reality can be rather different.

In Goa for instance, many disabled people allege they have been humiliated by authorities when they apply for a certificate. This applies to both disability and railway concession certificates.

Many disabled people allege that they are asked to give semi nude, full-body picture in passport size. Yes you read it right!

After complaints were filed against Goa Medical College (GMC) , authorities here have come out with a statement denying this. Newz Hook spoke to the complainants who made these allegations.

One of them, Prakash Kundaikar has even filed a complaint with the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) saying that he was asked for a semi-naked photograph that clearly showed his disability.

"I felt humiliated and shocked when I was asked to submit such a photograph at the GMC in Bambolim. This is against the RPWD Act and damaging to the dignity of people with disabilities," he says.

The GHRC has taken note of the complaint and has issued a notice to the college. The RPWD Act has a provision for a "recent passport size attested photograph (showing face only) of the person with disability."

There is no clause in the rules that call for a full-body, semi-naked photograph to be attached in the application but poor awareness often leads to exploitation at the hands of authorities.

Another person, Vishant Nagvekar, who applied for a railway concession certificate at GMC was denied the document for want of such a full-body photograph. He faced the problem at the District hospital Asilo, in Mapusa as well.

"I was left with no choice as I needed the certificate and so I submitted a full body photograph. Despite legislations and court rulings, local authorities are following their own unwritten rules and causing humiliation and inconvenience to people with disabilities," says Nagvekar.

The Dean and Medical Superintendent of GMC has denied these reports to the GHRC which has made activists angry.

This is a highly irresponsible statement made by the Dean and Medical Superintendent of Goa Medical College to the GHRC. This is not acceptable and highly unethical. If the GMC never asked for semi naked pictures why would we file a complaint? The dean and medical superintendent should have checked their records before making this statement on a sensitive matter concerning disability. - Avelino Dsa, President, Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG)

Hopefully the clarification from the Goa Human Rights Commission will clear the way for the disabled people in Goa. Disability rights groups can also promote awareness regarding this matter to ensure that disabled community in Goa does not have to face such inconvenience anymore.

ALSO READ: Leprosy no longer grounds for divorce says Lok Sabha, what about other discriminatory laws?

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