Wrong ideas and myths about disability 15
Wrong ideas and myths about disability
Local customs and beliefs may include wrong and harmful ideas about disability.
Some people think a woman gets a disability if she or her parents did something
bad in a former life, or that they displeased their ancestors, or one of her parents
had a sexual relationship outside their marriage. Usually people blame the mother.
But mothers are not to blame for a child’s disability. And blaming anyone for a
disability does not help.
Another harmful idea about disability is the belief that anybody who is ‘different’
should be excluded, mocked and criticized. Some people think a person with a
disability is a bad omen or will bring bad luck. Women with disabilities are often
abused, or forced to become beggars or do sex work for a living. Sometimes
women with disabilities are sexually abused because people believe they are free of
HIV/AIDS or that having sex with a disabled woman can cure HIV/AIDS.
But the truth is: No woman with a disability should ever be abused. Disability is
never a punishment. Disability is not caused by witchcraft or a curse. Disability is
not infectious and cannot spread to other people.
People may also
not understand what a
disabled woman can or
cannot do. They may not
Some pregnant women keep
away from my shop because
they think their baby will be
born deaf like me.
• you are an adult and
can make decisions.
• you need an education.
• you need health care.
• you can also get diseases, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
• you need opportunities and respect, not pity and sympathy.
• you can work. You can be a professional and have a career.
• you can earn, own property and raise and support your family.
• you think, feel and have emotions.
• you can dance and exercise.
• you can take responsibilities, make
decisions and take a leadership role and
involve yourself in your community.
• you can have close relationships with
anyone. You can love or be loved by a
person without disabilities or a person with
I am not a child
and I do not need
you to think or act
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007