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Mental disabilities still attributed to curse or evil spell in Nagaland: Survey

D.N.I.S. News Network - Mental disability is seen as being caused by a curse or an evil spell by a substantial section of people in the north-eastern State of Nagaland, according to an Action Aid funded study made public at a recent function in the State capital Kohima.

The survey, which covered 52 villages, found that about 35 percent respondents believed that disabilities were caused by “curses”.

The figures are astonishing and reveal that such beliefs may land a person with mental disabilities into the hands of local healers who resort to unscientific and often barbaric methods of treatment.

A participatory Pilot Study Report entitled “Unearthing Disability in the State of Nagaland”, proved to be an eye-opener for the State Government as well as the people. Governor Shyamal Datta released the Report at the Raj Bhavan in the presence of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.

Surveyors found 468 people with disabilities in 26 large villages, and 191 in 26 small villages surveyed. Similar surveys have been conducted in Meghalaya and Tripura too.

ActionAid Regional Manager P. K. Pincha said disability is a human rights issue but the conventional definition is “too medical-oriented”. “Bureaucrats need to be sensitised first, while persons with disabilities and primary stakeholders, such as their parents, should organise and carry forward the struggle for their rights,” he added.

he Governor said there were discrepancies in the Centre’s data as well. He pointed out that figures of the Census and the National Sample Survey did not match.

Last year, Nagaland had issued a notification reserving five per cent government jobs for people with disabilities.