By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: According to in-depth research conducted by the Arabian Gulf Center for Studies and Research (CSRGULF), most people with disabilities complain of limited access to civil and political rights, such as marriage, work and being in political positions. The study showed that many people with disabilities complain of a major lack of integration into society, as they do not receive full recognition from society and the government, revealing that the percentage of people with disabilities in recent years has increased in Kuwait by about 1,000, as there are around 60,000 Kuwaitis with disabilities (4 percent of the Kuwaiti population).
The study addressed the issue of having a large community of people with special needs live in the country without a role or value-added productivity, where many live in the shadows and do not fully exercise their rights, and their participation in economic and operational work remains weak. “Although 12 years have passed since the issuance of a law that was classified as the leading law in supporting the rights of people with disabilities in the Arab world, the articles of law no. 8 of 2010 focused on providing financial privileges rather than granting the right to exercise civil, social and political rights,” the research said.
As a result, discrimination continues to exist between people with disabilities and others in various fields, and this can be seen when joining the labor market. In addition, the gender gap remains, as women with disabilities are considered less fortunate in work and education than males. Thus, hundreds of people with disabilities complain about the problem of integration more than a lack of financial support.
In just around seven years, the number of people with disabilities in Kuwait has increased by more than 7,000 people, where an average of 1,000 people with disabilities have been added annually since 2015, according to official statistics published by the Public Authority for Disability Affairs.
Presently, Kuwait is paying attention to protecting the education and work rights of persons with disabilities. However, access to education is much lower for students with disabilities compared to students without disabilities, as well as employment. Most people with disabilities in Kuwait do not have equal opportunities to access and develop in the work environment or to practice competitive jobs, like other people.
Limited quality of education, training and rehabilitation is among the most prominent negative aspects of discrimination, along with the lack of legislation, as no people with disabilities have held any leadership position in the country, although some persons with disabilities have demonstrated distinguished skills and excelled in various fields such as sports, innovation, education and business initiatives, despite the achievements of some that reflect great sacrifices and belief in capabilities.
It is worth mentioning that several studies have affirmed that a high rate of consanguineous marriage is associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations and autosomal recessive diseases, which reach 55 percent. In Kuwait, a study found statistically significant differences for consanguineous spouses, especially cousins, in both physical and mental disabilities, compared to non-consanguineous spouses. This kind of marriage, in which habits, traditions, and families frequently overlap, has emerged as one of the fundamental reasons for the existence of diseases that help to explain why certain children develop disabilities.