Photos of Skytrain passengers cutting directly in front of a woman in a wheelchair as she waits for the station’s elevator — you know, the one designated for disabled people — have gone viral, prompting a national discussion about the still-sorry state of disabled rights in Thailand.
Though the scarcity of compassion for disabled folks here isn’t news — having photo evidence to prove just how big that gap is exposes how far we truly still have to go.
In a Facebook post made Sunday by the page Think Well 4.0, an unidentified woman in a wheelchair is shown left outside the elevator, while others (who could just as easily have used the escalator or stairs) look back unapologetically as the door closes.
“This is what a disabled person must face on their commute to work everyday,” the caption reads. “So my friend secretly took these photos to reveal candid Thai behaviors — the country that promises nice, kind citizens.”
Over the past decade, numerous stories in which activists confront citizen’s mistreatment of disabled folks have emerged. But while Thailand’s Constitution contains anti-discrimination provisions for disabled persons — like with the 2007 Persons with Disabilities’ Quality of Life Promotion Act and 2008 Persons with Disabilities Education Act — these policies are rarely acted upon on a day-to-day basis.
Back in 2011, Saowalak Thongkuay, Regional Development Officer of Disabled People’s International Asia-Pacific Region, pointed to both a lack of implementation from authorities and an awareness gap among citizens.
“There are no measurements and support systems to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to really access these services,” she said at the time.
It’s sobering to realize how little things have changed in the intervening seven years.
According to a 2012 survey by the National Statistical Office, the most recent available figures, Thailand has about 1.4 million people with disabilities, or 2.17 percent of the population.
In the words of one commenter on this week’s Facebook post, the number of Thais “handicapped in the heart” might far exceed that statistic.
Source : Coconuts