Accessibility November 16, 2020
Prominent Kolkata mall apologises to activist Jeeja Ghosh for blatant discrimination
South City Mall in Kolkata has issued an apology to disability rights activist Jeeja Ghosh. This is after Jeeja went public about the blatantly discriminatory attitude shown towards her during a visit last week.
“We do have the utmost respect for championing the cause of Specially-Abled people and also stand with you in furthering their rights and making our facility more inclusive”.
This apology Dip Biswas, Head Operations, South City Mall was made to prominent disability rights activist Jeeja Ghosh for the discriminatory attitude shown towards her during a routine visit to the mall.
Jeeja, who has cerebral palsy, was told she could not enter the mall unaccompanied.
“I was completely taken by surprise as I visit this place frequently and never had I faced such kind of behaviour.”, she said in a Facebook post. “I started arguing with this person but with the mask on my speech was becoming more slurred and difficult to understand”.
Jeeja has cerebral palsy
Finally, worried by the crowd she was attracting, mall authorities intervened. “They cleverly tried to ease the situation by offering me a wheelchair. I categorically tried telling them that it’s not the wheelchair I need, I just wanted to go to the food court”.
The matter did not end there. Security personnel tried to stop Jeeja from speaking to the media.
They insisted I should not give any statement to the media till the mall authorities arrived. The authorities on their part tried to dilute the incident by saying that the security guards were only trying to be helpful and justify the situation by saying that they could not understand my speech. I have lived in Kolkata for a major part of my life but have not encountered a situation as this one. Is it the offshoot of the new normal? – Jeeja Ghosh, Disability rights activist
Mall authorities have offered an unconditional apology to Jeeja and promised to take steps to prevent such incidents from happening again. “We have also taken up the issue for the need to sensitise the frontal staff in a manner that they understand where they are required to step in for assistance and where they are not”, said the le
The apology is welcome says Shampa Sengupta, Founder, Sruti Disability Rights Centre. However, it’s the larger indifference she finds worrying.
“Sensitisation of staff in one mall may be the first step but can the state forget its responsibilities?” asks Shampa, who is also Joint Secretary, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled (NPTD). “Even when blatant discrimination is reported in the media, how come the West Bengal Disability Commissioner’s office remains totally silent? Disability groups need to think about sustainable solutions instead of knee-jerk reactions to see that this kind of discrimination does not get repeated”.
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