Accept & love your disability first – By Varsha Kewalramani
This week’s guest column is by Varsha Kewalramani, a lawyer who has a rare genetic condition. Varsha says that stigma and lack of support are some of the biggest barriers faced by disabled women in India today and it is critical for families to offer support.
I was born with a genetic skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa. Few people with this condition live beyond 30 years of age. My skin blisters and tears with minor friction or trauma, my fingers are webbed, I am prone to allergies and some internal bodily functions are affected.
Family support was key
I was lucky to get admission into a school headed by a compassionate principal who allowed a nanny to sit with me until class 8. A bright student, I did well academically and barring some occasional teasing from schoolmates, I had an awesome school life. I went on to study commerce in a college where the campus was accessible. I never felt judged because of my disability.
I believe one should accept and love their disability first. Only then will others accept it. There were moments when people would stare at my skin or ask weird questions but that has never deterred me. I have been working as a lawyer for the last eight years, I have reached this far mainly due to my family. My parents have never stopped me from going out, socialising and making friends. This support and awareness are needed, especially in rural areas where disabled women are still made to feel like a burden on their families.
My parents have never treated me differently and I have friends who love me dearly. They are like family to me. I have been nominated for a national award by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry and in my spare time I give talks about the rights of disabled women. I also do legal voluntary work for NGOs and people from low income groups as I believe in giving back to society.
Some of the main factors coming in the way of disabled women are:
- Lack of family support.
- Accessibility comes in the way of pursuing their dreams.
- Social exclusion.
- Discouraged from finding love.
Such reactions should not bother us anymore. This article is dedicated to all differently abled women and my aim is to create awareness among parents of disabled women.