Amba Salelkar works for the Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy started by lawyer Rahul Cherian, as a social network platform for people with disabilities. The group looks at upcoming legislation from the perspective of the disabled and presses for inclusive measures.
Salelkar was working as a litigator in Mumbai in criminal law and domestic violence cases but had an interest in mental health issues. She joined Cherian, who died in February, to focus on mental health policy work and moved to Chennai last year.
We can argue endlessly about what the court should and could have done to promote inclusion, but it is of the utmost necessity to seek appropriate changes to the draft bill, which, despite the apprehensions of the disability sector, is in the final stages prior to introduction in Parliament. The disability sector needs to pull out its fine-toothed combs to make sure that nothing is lost in interpretation this time around.
Matrimonial law is heavily stacked against persons with disabilities
As much as I want to unconditionally love Jethmalani, his invention of a mysterious chronic disease which “draws a woman to a man”, ostensibly making her “mentally unstable” and vitiating the entire prosecution case, crosses all lines on “defence lawyers doing the best to defend their Clients”. While there seems to be nothing on record to show that the victim had any psychosocial disability, it’s a rather calculated and damning accusation even by itself. There is a common perception of hypersexuality among women with disabilities, particularly women with psychosocial disabilities.
While security is a concern, the security personnel can scan passengers with more expertise and sensitivity, feel experts. Amba Salelkar from Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability, Law and Policy said security staff should be trained to handle passengers with disability and body scanners should be brought in to give them an option to walk through security screenings. "No one says that prosthetic limbs should not be checked. But people should be made comfortable.
"The biggest part of responsibility for making travel smoother falls on the airport operator," . A telephonic helpdesk is essential to provide services to passengers with disability so that they can be guided and given access to special assistance," said Amba Salelkar from Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy, one of the organizations which drafted and sent the proposal.
Bhatia’s online campaign isn’t the first attempt to change the way systems work at airports. For the past few years, spearheaded by Rahul Cherian (who recently passed away), Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy has been working to force the Ministry of Civil Aviation to take the rights of physically-challenged travelers seriously. In the past, Inclusive Planet has made a submission on behalf of 20 NGOs on the aspects that needed to be covered in the new Civil Aviation Policy to address the needs of persons with disabilities.
Amba Salelkar, a former criminal lawyer, who now represents the Chennai-based Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy, one of the organisations that submitted suggestions, welcomes this change in the law. “For many hearing, speech or visually impaired people, there was no effective mechanism in place to communicate with the police. Now the police has to evolve alternative methods of identification,” she says, adding that Inclusive Planet had also recommended that the entire process of identification be videographed to avoid any ambiguities in court later.
Amba Salelkar of Inclusive Planet Centre for Disability Law and Policy highlighted the need for staff sensitization. "The physical equipment is one aspect that the ministry is addressing. But there is a lot of abuse that disabled persons face while travelling. Official sensitization should also be looked into," said Salelkar.
'The Justice Verma committee has impressed a nation full of beleaguered voices on the lack of political will and initiative, with its 657-page report, barely 20 days after they closed public comment on improvements to the law and procedure regarding sexual assault.