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1 W ‘ e can also make change’ Piloting participatory research with persons with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh April 2015

2 By the ‘Voices of the Marginalised’ consortium Acknowledgement (Sightsavers, HelpAge International, ADD This document is an output from the Voices of the International, and Alzheimer’s Disease International) Marginalised, a consortium formed of Sightsavers, Authors: Danny Burns and Katy Oswald HelpAge International, ADD International, and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Alzheimer’s Disease International, with funding from Sightsavers. Many individuals are to thank for the November 2014 success of this pilot study: the 18 peers researchers Lead authors: Danny Burns and Katy Oswald in Bangladesh who collected and analysed the studies, the persons with disabilities and older Mohammad Akkas Molla people who accepted to share their stories; the Selina Begum staff from Sightsavers, HelpAge International, ADD Md Kamal Hossain International and Danny Burns and Katy Osward Abdul Matin from IDS for leading the research. Thank you also A H M Kamruzzaman to Naomi Marks for editing the report. The views Salamot Ullah expressed are those of the peers researchers Hafez Mohammad Jafar Alam and do not necessarily represent those of the Rozina Akter Consortium. Nazma Akter Rasheda Mohammad Fazlul Haque For more information, please Shefali Bala Dey contact Sightsavers policy team: Lipi Rahman [email protected] Most Samira Khatun or consult Sightsavers website: Md Al Amin www.sightsavers.org/voices Nasima Khatun Md Elias Talukder A S M Ashiqur Rahman Md Fazlul Karim Known as ‘we can also make change’ team Burns, D., Oswald, K. and the ‘we can also make a change’ team (2015) Cover image: ©Peter Caton/Sightsavers Please note: the images used in this report do not show the participants or interviewees in the Voices of the Marginalised project. We wish to protect their identities.

3 Contents 8 Executi 1. ve summary Intr 8 1.1 oduction hodology 8 1.2 Met Findings 9 1.3 1.4 Conc lusion 9 About t his research 11 2. 2.1 The communit y peer researchers from Bhashantek 11 2.2 The communit y peer researchers from Cox’s Bazar 11 2.3 The peer r esearchers from Bangladesh NGOs 12 2. 4 S upporting facilitators 1 3 2.5 R esearch facilitators 1 3 6 A not e on terminology 1 3 2. 3. Intr oduction 1 4 P 3.1 ersons with disabilities in Bangladesh 1 5 3.2 Older peop le in Bangladesh 1 5 esearch design and methodology 4 R . 1 7 4 .1 O ur definition of disability 1 7 .2 4 articipatory research? 1 7 What is p 4 .3 What is peer r esearch? 1 7 .4 Co llecting stories 1 8 4 4 .5 Sit e selection 1 8 8 .6 S election of peer researchers 1 4 4.7 Et hics 1 9 1 9 4 .8 A not e on representation and generalisation We can also make change 3

4 4 .9 R esearch design and planning workshop: November 2012 1 9 4 .10 Mid-t erm workshop: January 2013 2 0 4 .11 R esearch analysis workshop: April 2013 21 4.11.1 Community peer r esearchers 21 4.11.2 22 NGO peer r esearchers 4 .12 V erification workshop: June 2013 22 5 . Analysis and discussion 25 5 .1 Accidents and disast ers 25 5.1.1 25 Accidents or natural disasters causing disability 5.1.2 Disability and older age contributing to higher risk of accidents 25 What should be done? 26 5.1.3 5 .2 Access t o education 26 Lack of money and stipends 26 5.2.1 5.2.2 Lack of infrastructur e and facilities 26 5.2.3 Disability discrimination and bullying 27 5.2.4 Gender discrimination 28 5.2.5 Unsupportive family 28 5.2.6 28 What should be done? 5.3 velihoods 2 9 Li 5.3.1 Dif ficulty finding a job due to disability 29 5.3.2 Begging as a livelihood choice 31 5.3.3 Access to af fordable credit 31 5.3.4 32 Pensions and disability allowance 5.3.5 What should be done? 33 5 .4 Medical tr eatment 34 5.4.1 The cost of tr eatment 34 5.4.2 Corruption and discrimination 35 5.4.3 Medical knowledge 35 5.4.4 Alter native medicine 36 5.4.5 What should be done? 36 .5 F amily support 3 7 5 5.5.1 Older people lacking family support 37 5.5.2 Persons with disabilities lacking support 39 39 5.5.3 What should be done? We can also make change 4

5 5 Exc lusion and mistreatment 3 9 .6 39 Exclusion and mistr 5.6.1 eatment of persons with disabilities by family members Exclusion and mistr 40 5.6.2 eatment of persons with disabilities by the community Exploitation of persons with disabilities 41 5.6.3 Exclusion and exploitation of older people 5.6.4 42 5.6.5 What should be done? 43 uperstition 5.7 43 S Bad spirits 43 5.7.1 5.7.2 ‘Sin’ and ‘bad behaviour’ 44 Other myths 44 5.7.3 5.7.4 45 What should be done? o services Access t 5 45 .8 Specific services for older people 45 5.8.1 5.8.2 46 Health services Lack of services for people with mental illnesses 46 5.8.3 5.8.4 ficient services for people with intellectual impairments Insuf 46 Infrastructur e 46 5.8.5 5.8.6 What should be done? 47 5.9 Mo bility 47 5.9.1 Mobility and physical disabilities 47 5.9.2 e blind or have low vision 47 Mobility and people who ar 5.9.3 48 Mobility and people with hearing and speech impairments 5.9.4 What should be done? 48 5.10 Mar 48 riage Marriage and women with disabilities 48 5.10.1 5.10.2 eatment of women with disabilities Mistr 49 5.10.3 What should be done? 50 5.11 Land 5 0 5.11.1 Slum living 50 5.11.2 Land inheritance 51 5.11.3 What should be done? 51 5 .12 Rape and sexual abuse 5 2 5.12.1 W omen, disability and vulnerability 52 Particular vulnerabilities 52 5.12.2 5.12.3 Power , rape and sexual abuse 53 5.12.4 V iews of the community peer researchers 54 55 5.12.5 What should be done? We can also make change 5

6 5 .13 The r ole of grassroots community-based organisations 56 5.13.1 Supporting the wr ong kinds of activities 56 5.13.2 Lack of accountability 56 5.13.3 Do NGOs adopt the right appr oach? 56 Community involvement and sustainability 57 5.13.4 5.13.5 The priorities of NGOs 58 5.13.6 Capacity development and service delivery 60 5.13.7 V iews of the community peer researchers 60 6. valuation of the peer research process 6 3 E Conclusion 6 7 7. 7 .1 K ey areas 6 7 Challenges 68 7.2 7 .3 Empo werment through research 68 Annex 1: The guidelines f or community and 9 6 NGO peer researchers We can also make change 6

7 We can also make change 7

8 1. Executive summary 1.2 Methodology 1.1 Introduction Sightsavers, HelpAge International, ADD The project made use of a form of participatory research known as peer research. Participatory International, and Alzheimer’s Disease International research is intended to break down the divide worked together with the Institute of Development between researchers and participants. It is research Studies (IDS) to bring the perspectives of those WITH people, not ON people. In peer research, who live in poverty or who are highly marginalised the researchers are people rooted within particular into post-2015 policy making. This report, entitled constituencies or communities. “We can also make a change”, presents the findings of the Voices of the Marginalised pilot Two groups of peer researchers were supported to research project. It draws on the real-life stories of undertake the project: persons with disabilities and older people, as told to researchers by persons with disabilities, family members of persons with disabilities and older Community peer researchers: Poor and/ 1. people themselves. The research was carried out or excluded persons with disabilities and in Bangladesh, the world’s seventh most populous older people from each of the two selected country and one experiencing rapid demographic research sites: Bhashantek, an urban slum change. in Dhaka; and Cox’s Bazar, a rural area in southeast Bangladesh. The aim of the research was to understand better the experiences of social, political, and economic Non-Govermental Organisations (NGO) peer 2. exclusion of persons with disabilities and older researchers: Staff from local Bangladeshi people from their own perspectives. Although the NGOs who work with persons with facts of exclusion are widely documented, the disabilities and older people. reality of it has been less explored. This is important though, both to further understand poverty and Eighteen peer researchers were selected in total exclusion and to determine whether the rights of with the task to gather stories. They were supported persons with disabilities and older people are – or in this process through a series of workshops are not – being upheld. facilitated by researchers from IDS. These were held from November 2012 to April 2013. The draft research report was verified by the peer researchers at a workshop in June 2013. ©Shafiqul Alam Kiron/Sightsavers We can also make change 8

9 1.3 Findings 1.4 Conclusion From the stories collected and analysed, the The stories gathered in the Voices of the Marginalised project tell of the experiences of peer researchers identified 13 priority areas that affect persons with disabilities and older people. persons with disabilities and older people in one country, at one time, providing valuable testament These were: to the considerable equality and poverty challenges they face. Through the stories gathered, the issues • accidents and risks that are most critical to persons with disabilities • access to education and older people are made clear. The detail of their livelihoods • testimonies reveals how and why discriminatory medical treatment • dynamics are generated and sustained, and how • family support they impact on people. • exclusion and mistreatment Thirteen separate but intersecting issues were superstition • identified by the peer researchers as critical to • access to services “people like them, with significant overlaps between mobility • them. Chief among them was the critical issue of marriage • insecure livelihoods. Persons with disabilities and • land older people have little access to income. Yet the rape and sexual abuse • stories gathered illustrate how transformative an the role of grassroots community-based • income can be in terms of independence, status organisations and self-esteem. Poor access to services, chiefly as a result of poor infrastructure, can also be seen as key, as too the everyday discrimination There was significant overlap in the issues identified and exclusion faced by persons with disabilities by the two groups of peer researchers. However, and older people. Rape and sexual harassment only the NGO peer researchers identified rape and add extreme hardship to the lives of girls and sexual harassment. This discrepancy prompted women with disabilities who already face gender a workshop discussion. The community peer discrimination, poverty and exclusion. Finally, the researchers agreed that girls and women with people living in Bhashantek slum in particular disabilities are vulnerable to rape and sexual singled out land – and the difficulty of access to it, harassment, but they explained that the shame as an issue. associated with sexual abuse meant it was not spoken about openly. The peer researchers demonstrably enjoyed participating in the research project, learned new A second issue that failed to be identified by skills, and felt confident to speak about both the community peer researchers was the role of disability and ageing issues. Importantly, the grassroots organisations. In a workshop discussion research modelled the process of empowerment around this, the community peer researchers itself. From the moment this group of persons expressed a number of negative views around with disabilities and older people came back NGO activities. from gathering stories and exclaimed, “We are researchers now”, the potential for real transformation was realised. We can also make change 9

10 ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD

11 2. About this research Sightsavers, HelpAge International, ADD International and Alzheimer’s Disease International worked together with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to bring the perspectives of those who live in poverty or who are highly marginalised into post-2015 policy making. This report, entitled “We can also make change”, presents the findings of the Voices of the Marginalised pilot research project. It draws on the real-life stories of persons with involved with this research. This is the first disabilities and older people in Bangladesh, as told time I’ve been involved in anything like this.” to researchers by persons with disabilities, family “My name is Abdul Matin. I am 72 years old members of persons with disabilities and older and I live in Bhashantek in Dhaka. I once people themselves. had my own business, but since I’ve had The research was undertaken by a group of peer eye problems I haven’t been able to work. researchers from Bhashantek, Dhaka, and villages I am married and I have three sons and one in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, all of daughter. I had a cataract operation and lost whom were persons with disabilities, older people the vision completely in one eye and partially or people with an immediate member of their family in the other. So I am both old and disabled.” with a disability, together with a group of peer “My name is A H M Kamruzzaman. I am 45 researchers from Bangladesh NGOs who work with years old and I live in Bhashantek in Dhaka. persons with disabilities and older people. I have my own confectionery and tea stall. I am married and have two sons. I am disabled 2.1 The community peer researchers because my right hand and leg are broken. from Bhashantek, Dhaka I am proud that I am not dependent on anybody and have my own business My name is Mohammad Akkas Molla. and a regular income, despite my I am 45 years old and I live in disability.” Bhashantek in Dhaka. I am a hawker, selling medicine on the street. I am married and have 2.2 The community peer researchers two children, one son and one daughter. I am from Cox’s Bazar visually impaired. I am proud that I am contributing to the welfare of disabled and “My name is Salamot Ullah. I am older people by participating in this initiative.” 21 years old and I live in Jhilonja in Cox’s Bazar. I’m a student, studying at higher “My name is Selina Begum. I am 44 years secondary school. I am unmarried and have old and I live in Bhashantek in Dhaka. I am a three brothers and four sisters. I am disabled. hawker and sell clothes on the street. I am One of my legs is shorter than the other. I’m married but I was abandoned by my husband. proud that I am part of a self-help group that I have one son, a daughter-in-law and one works with disabled people.” grandson. I am disabled. I am proud that I lead a self-help group for people with disabilities “My name is Hafez Mohammad Jafar Alam. and that I can help them.” I am 35 years old and I live in Jhilonja in Cox’s Bazar. I am an assistant officer-in-charge for “My name is Md Kamal Hossain. I am 35 years a life insurance company. I am married and I old and I live in Bhashantek in Dhaka. I sell have three sons and two daughters. I have a clothes. I am married and I have two sons. visual disability. I am proud that I have been My right hand and right leg were broken, so involved with disability organisations since I am now disabled. I am very proud of being We can also make change 11

12 I was eight years old and I want to continue 2.3 The peer researchers from being involved for the rest of my life.” Bangladesh NGOs “My name is Rozina Akter. I am 25 years old. I live in Jhilonja in Cox’s Bazar. I’m studying “My name is Lipi Rahman. I am for an MBA (accounting) in Cox’s Bazar 39 years old and I live in Dhaka in government college. I am unmarried and have Bangladesh. I am a programme officer at the six sisters and three brothers. I was affected Resource Integration Center (RIC), an NGO by rheumatic fever at the age of six and as I that works with older people. I am unmarried had no proper treatment I became disabled. and I’m proud to be an independent woman.” I participated in the research to do something “My name is Most Samira Khatun. I’m 23 for disabled people, particularly women with years old and I live in Godagari, Rajshahi, disabilities.” Bangladesh. I’m a graduate student in political “My name is Nazma Akter Rasheda. I am 18 science and I’m Treasurer of Zila Badhon years old and I live in Jhilonja in Cox’s Bazar. Protibondhi Sangstha, a PWD organisation. I am a student and a member of a person I have a visual disability as I only have sight in with disabilities (PWD) self-help group. I am one eye. I am unmarried and am proud that I unmarried and have three sisters and six am brave and face many challenges in order to brothers. I am disabled. I have a club foot progress in my life.” on my left leg. I am proud to be part of this “My name is Md Al Amin. I am 25 years research. As a disabled person, I tried to bring old and I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am a out the sufferings of disabled people and older community mobiliser for ADD. I am unmarried people in my community.” and have three brothers and two sisters. I am “My name is Mohammad Fazlul Haque. I am 72 disabled as a result of polio. I am proud that I years old and I live in Jhilonja Sadar in Cox’s graduated with honours successfully, despite Bazar. I sell electronic goods. I am married my disability.” and I have three sons and one daughter, all of “My name is Nasima Khatun. I am 42 years old whom are married. I am proud of my sons and and I live in Palash, Narsingdi, Bangladesh. daughters.” I am a community organiser for the Bangladesh “My name is Shefali Bala Dey. I am 42 years Women’s Health Coalition (BWHC), an NGO that old. I live in Jhilonja in Cox’s Bazar. I am a works with older women. I am married and have housewife. I have one daughter who has a two daughters and one grandson. I also have visual disability. She’s a member of a PWD two brothers and four sisters, and one of my self-help group. I am married and have three sisters is disabled. I have been doing my job for daughters and two sons. I do welfare a long time and I have become independent. work in my community and I am I have managed to make my own home, which proud of that.” makes me proud. I work for the welfare of older women and that also makes me proud.” “My name is Md Elias Talukder. I’m 32 years old and I live in Barisal, Bangladesh. I am a project supervisor at the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID). I am unmarried and have three brothers and one sister. I am proud of my mother. She’s a great mother.” We can also make change 12

13 “My name is A S M Ashiqur Rahman (Amit). 2.6 A note on terminology I am 30 years old and I live in Dhaka, Throughout this report the term “persons with Bangladesh. I am the Treasurer of the disabilities” is used as this is an internationally Bangladesh Visually Impaired People’s Society accepted term. When participants are quoted, (BVIPS). I am married and I have one brother however, “people with disabilities” and other terms and three sisters. I have a visual disability. may be used as this more accurately reflects I’m proud of my work, which deals with IT people’s everyday language. software for visually impaired people.” “My name is Md Fazlul Karim. I am 35 years old and I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am a programme organiser for BVIPS. I am married and I have one son. I am proud of the work I do for people with disabilities.” 2.4 Supporting facilitators Nusrat Zerin Programme Officer, Sightsavers Bangladesh Jahangir Alam Programme Officer, Sightsavers Bangladesh Shashwatee Biplop Senior Advisor, Social Protection and Policy, HelpAge Bangladesh Fazlul Haque Capacity Development Facilitator, ADD Bangladesh 2.5 Research facilitators Danny Burns Research Fellow, IDS, UK Katy Oswald Research Officer, IDS, UK We can also make change 13

14 3. Introduction Global ageing has a major influence on disability trends. There is higher risk of disability at older ages and the population of Bangladesh is ageing at an unprecedented rate. By 2030, 16.6 per cent of the world’s population will be aged 60 and over, and of those 1 73 per cent will live in the developing world. Age-related health and lower self-esteem. This reduces their income- Globally, problems that can generating opportunities, making it more likely affect sight, hearing, that they live in chronic poverty, leading to further persons with mobility, and mental exclusion. However, what is less well understood disabilities functioning mean is the reality of this relationship as it is lived by real face wide- that older people people; the experiences of social, economic and are particularly political exclusion from the perspective of persons spread social, vulnerable to the with disabilities. It is this gap that this research economic, poverty-related sought to address. and political effects of disability. This gap matters because the voices and exclusion. Older people perspectives of persons with disabilities provide a may not consider picture of their reality and how they see exclusion themselves as having a disability despite enduring affecting them. As stated in Article 3 of the United significant difficulties because they consider their Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons level of functioning appropriate for their age. with Disabilities (UNCRPD), it is important that Therefore this research worked with persons with there is “full and effective participation and disabilities, as well as older people who may not inclusion in society”. Article 33 relates to national self-identify as having a disability. implementation and monitoring of the Convention and states that, “Civil society, in particular Globally, persons with disabilities face widespread persons with disabilities and their representative social, economic, and political exclusion. They organisations, shall be involved and participate fully are routinely excluded from participating in social, in the monitoring process.” (UN General Assembly, economic, and political activities and processes, 4 ). This research provided an opportunity for 2008 including international development policy, persons with disabilities to give their perspectives practice and research. For example, of people on how their rights are – or are not – being upheld with schizophrenia, research shows 29 per cent in one country, namely Bangladesh. experience discrimination in either finding or keeping The research sought both to understand and a job and 42 per cent feel the need to conceal their address the social, economic and political exclusion condition when applying for work, education or 2 These kinds of exclusion serve to reinforce of persons with disabilities and older people training. the disproportionately high number of people living by using participatory methods to understand with disabilities among the poorest of the poor. what persons with disabilities and older people understand as the causes of their social, economic, The relationship between disability and exclusion is and political exclusion. relatively well understood. Numerous studies have shown that persons with disabilities are subject to 3 For example, they are excluded discrimination. from the education system, leading to a lack of skills We can also make change 14

15 3.1 Persons with disabilities in Bangladesh It is difficult to state the prevalence of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh precisely as different surveys have measured disability differently and there is no internationally agreed figure. However, globally it is known that the cost of disability due to lost income resulting from a lack of schooling and employment, both of persons with disabilities and their carers, is estimated at US$1.2 billion annually, 5 or 1.7 per cent of gross domestic product. 3.2 Older people in Bangladesh Bangladesh is the world’s seventh most populous country, with a population, according to the 6 It is also last census in 2011, of 150 million. experiencing rapid demographic transition; life expectancy is increasing while birth rates are falling. The share of the population above the age of 60 is growing at a rapid rate, from 1.9 million (4.4 per cent) in 1951 to 9.4 million (6.6 per cent) in 2007. This number is expected to increase to 14.6 million (about 9 per cent) by the year 2025. More of those who cross the age of 60 are now expected to live to 75 or beyond.7 1 UNESA (2011) World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision , New York: UNESA 2 Thor nicroft, G., Brohan, E. , Rose, D., Sartorius, N. and Leese, M. (2009) Global pat - tern of experienced and anticipated discrimination against people with schizophre - nia: a cross-sectional study, The Lancet, 373(9661): 408-415 3 oe, R. and Moore, K. (2003) Including disabled people in poverty reduction work: Y ‘‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’’, World Development, 31(3): 571-590 4 UN General Assembly (2008) UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability , New York, UNGA 5 W orld Health Organization (2011) World Report on Disability 2011, Geneva: WHO 6 Bangladesh Statistics and Information Division (SID) www .sid.gov.bd/statistics/ bangladesh-at-a-glance-census-2011/ 7 www.helpage.org/where/bangladesh ©Peter Caton/Sightsavers We can also make change 15

16 ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers

17 4. Research design and methodology This report has been generated by both the community peer researchers and the NGO peer researchers. The methods were developed by IDS in consultation with local staff of Sightsavers, HelpAge International and ADD International, and were discussed and refined with the peer researchers themselves. 4.2 What is participatory research? The peer researchers helped design the story Participatory research aims to break down the prompts and undertook all the story collection. divide between researchers and the researched. They then carried out the analysis of the It is research WITH people, not ON people. The material collected. They were supported in this participants are the researchers themselves and process by a small team of facilitators from they pursue answers to the questions and problems Sightsavers Bangladesh, HelpAge Bangladesh, that affect their daily lives. Participatory research is ADD Bangladesh, and IDS. The main report not guided by questions from external researchers. comprises the stories collected by the peer It is based on the stories that people want to tell. In researchers and their analysis. participatory research the analysis is done by the participants, and the implications of the analysis are determined by the participants. 4.1 Our definition of disability Disability is the broad term used to describe the 4.3 What is peer research? barriers that individuals face as a result of an Peer research is a form of participatory research. impairment, or of limitations to their activities, or an In it, the researchers are people rooted within inability to participate fully in society. These barriers particular constituencies or communities and they generally fall into three categories: are supported as they generate research with their peers. environmental, e.g. inaccessible buildings • Two groups of peer researchers were supported to and services undertake this study: attitudinal, e.g. stereotyping, discrimination • and prejudice community peer researchers: These were • organisational, e.g. inflexible policies, • persons with disabilities and older people practices and procedures. from one of two communities – Bhashantek slum in Dhaka, and the Jhilonja area of rural Cox’s Bazar, in the southeast of This research therefore adopts a diverse Bangladesh. understanding of disability, encompassing, for NGO peer researchers: These were people • example, someone born with a congenital condition who work with persons with disabilities and such as cerebral palsy, or a person who has older people in local Bangladesh NGOs. damaged their leg in an accident, or someone with schizophrenia, or an older person with dementia, or someone with a chronic illness. The peer researchers were asked to collect stories from “people like you”. Therefore, the community peer researchers spoke with persons with disabilities and older people in their respective communities; the NGO peer researchers spoke with We can also make change 17

18 or issue facing persons with disabilities, mental health problems, and/or older people. The NGO peer researchers were also recruited using geographical criteria (see below), to ensure they represented NGOs working in diverse geographical areas of Bangladesh. 4.6 Selection of peer researchers Staff from Sightsavers, HelpAge, and ADD identified and recruited the peer researchers. They identified five community peer researchers from Bhashantek, six community peer researchers from Cox’s Bazar and seven NGO peer researchers. The selection criteria for the community peer researchers were: ©Manna Rahman/HelpAge International staff of local NGOs who work with persons with persons with disabilities and older people • disabilities and older people. people living in poverty and/or experiencing • All the peer researchers helped to design the exclusion story prompts and identified peers within their communities or constituencies to collect stories people living in the neighbourhood/ • from. They gathered the stories and collectively community analysed them, and their analyses and quotes from a representative balance of the different • the stories form the body of this report. interests or groups within the communities a balance of women and men, and type of • 4.4 Collecting stories disability. Prompts were used to collect stories rather than interview questions to encourage participants to share their stories. This also ensured that issues Selection criteria for the NGO peer researchers were: important to participants were not pre-empted. The prompts were open-ended and follow-up questions asked about the story told. Stories rather than visual • a diverse range of partners across methods were used to ensure that those who were Sightsavers, HelpAge and ADD (i.e. a mix of blind or who had low vision could engage equally. participants from different associations and local NGOs) 4.5 Site selection • a balance of women and men A community in an urban neighbourhood (Bhashantek) and another in a rural area (Cox’s a diverse geographical spread • Bazar) were selected as sites for this research so the experience of using participatory • perspectives of persons with disabilities and older methodologies people living in both kinds of communities could be understood. The two particular communities used people with a strong network of peers with • were chosen because both are characterised by whom to conduct research. relative poverty and experience a particular problem We can also make change 18

19 4.7 Ethics 4.9 Research design and planning workshop: November 2012 All the peer researchers were given clear guidelines to ensure the people they spoke with gave informed In November 2012, two three-day research consent to use their stories. design and planning workshops were held, one for the NGO peer researchers and another for The community peer researchers introduced the community peer researchers. The principles themselves. They explained they were collecting of participatory research were introduced, the stories from persons with disabilities and older objectives of the research explained and everyone’s people to be used in a research study for expectations reviewed. The peers whose stories Sightsavers, HelpAge and ADD. They clarified that would be collected were identified and discussions the results of this study were going to be used both held about the story prompts, how the stories in Bangladesh and internationally. Consents were were to be collected, ethics, and the importance either recorded or witnessed by a third person of informed consent. The documentation and safe whose name and contact details were noted. storage of the stories was also discussed. Informed consent was obtained from the parent or legal guardian of participants under 18. All the Finally, the peer researchers practised collecting names of those whose stories were collected by the stories. The NGO peer researchers collected stories community peer researchers have been changed. from staff in the ADD office, while the community peer researchers practised in three rounds: The NGO peer researchers followed the same first, they collected stories from each other and procedures. The names of the participants whose analysed them; second, they collected stories from stories they collected have been used in this report, community members from Bhashantek slum; and, but any people these participants named have been finally, they collected stories from random people made anonymous to protect their identities. they met on the street. They analysed the difficulties they faced after each of these rounds and explored 4.8 A note on representation the ethical issues such as informed consent. and generalisation The prompt questions agreed for the community The findings from this research cannot be peer researchers were: considered representative of all persons with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh. This is usual for a participatory research study, and Tell me a story about a challenge you have • is a result of sample selection not being random faced as a person with a disability or an and sample size not being large enough to be older person. statistically significant. However, within the study the perceptions and opinions of persons with disabilities Tell me a story about something that • and older people from two communities (one rural happened to you because you are a person and one urban) could be triangulated with the with a disability or an older person. perceptions and opinions of staff working in more than 40 different organisations. This ensured the findings are robust. We can also make change 19

20 accompany the community peer researchers, to record the stories on a digital recorder and to type up the transcript. These volunteers were not allowed to interfere in the story-collecting process. 4.10 Mid-term workshop: January 2013 In January 2013, a two-day mid-term workshop was held in Cox’s Bazar for both groups of community peer researchers, and a one-day mid- term workshop for the NGO peer researchers was held in Dhaka. The purpose was to review the progress of the story collecting and provide support to the peer researchers if needed. The community peer researchers reported that with some peers they had to explain the prompts several times before they understood what was wanted from them. As a result, many of the interactions ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD ended up being questions and answers rather The prompt questions agreed for the NGO peer than open-ended story telling. Despite this, the researchers were: community peer researchers felt they had collected interesting and relevant information about the perspectives of their peers. • Tell me a story about how economic, The community peer researchers also raised social or political changes have impacted/ concerns about speaking to persons with influenced a person with disabilities or an intellectual impairments. In each case, the older person you know. community peer researchers asked permission of Tell me a story about a person with • the person’s family members and a family member disabilities or an older person who is unable told the stories. The community peer researchers to live the life you think they would want to. said that in each case the person with intellectual impairments was not capable of telling their story. Tell me a story about a person or group • While this does not necessarily make these stories of people who you have been unable to invalid, as the perspective of a relative of someone support. with an intellectual impairment is interesting, it does raise a question of legitimate representation. It also At the end of the workshops the facilitators provided raises the fact that many people with intellectual the peer researchers with guidelines (See Annex impairments are assumed to be unable to speak for 1). The community peer researchers were asked to themselves. collect stories from 36 peers in each community. The The NGO peer researchers felt their first and NGO peer researchers were asked to collect stories second prompts were too similar and often from nine peers each. elicited similar stories. The first prompt, about the As some community peer researchers were people effects of economic, social and political trends on who are blind or have low vision, or who are illiterate, people, was often interpreted as being about the they decided to collect the stories in twos or threes. economic, social and political situation of the people A volunteer was recruited in each community to themselves. The last prompt, about a person they We can also make change 20

21 have not been able to support, often elicited a Table 1: Participants offering stories response about a problem of a lack of funding – for analysis unsurprisingly, given that most of the peers work Total Participants or volunteer for an NGO or PWD organisation. It was agreed that the researchers could try asking Older women 8 different prompts to try and elicit a variety of 8 Older men stories. They could also ask their peers to talk about experiences of other organisations for the Women with physical disabilities 3 third prompt, as the peers may be more willing to 3 Men with physical disabilities talk about difficulties faced by other organisations Women who are blind or rather than their own, as well as ask more probing 3 have low vision questions for this prompt, such as whether other reasons exist for not being able to support people Men who are blind or 4 other than a lack of funds. have low vision People with speech/hearing 4.11 Research analysis workshop: 4 impairment (all men) April 2013 Women with intellectual In April 2013, a five-day research analysis 2 impairment workshop took place in Dhaka. The community peer researchers and the NGO peer researchers Men with intellectual impairment 2 worked separately for the first four days to analyse 16 women Total women and men the stories they had collected. On the final day, all 21 men the peer researchers came together to share their analyses and discuss similarities and differences. For each story, the community peer researchers 4.11.1 Community peer researchers were asked “What are the factors/issues that you The community peer researchers analysed 37 of the think are important in this story?” They wrote each 70 stories collected. The stories were divided into factor or issue on a Post-it note, which was then categories and small sections randomly selected for read out before being clustered with similar factors analysis. The community peer researchers worked or issues on flip chart paper. So, for example, all the in four groups, two groups from Cox’s Bazar and Post-it notes with the issue “not being able to afford two from Bhashantek, and they analysed the stories medicine or treatment” were clustered together. over two days. Each group had at least one person The IDS researchers selected the 12 issues that who read the stories out to those who were blind arose most frequently in the stories i.e. those that or who had low vision or were unable to read. With featured on the most Post-it notes. The community more time and budget, all of the stories would have peer researchers agreed these issues were the been reviewed. The table below shows how many most important. As not every story could be stories were analysed and who they came from. collectively analysed, the peer researchers were able to suggest factors or issues they had heard often in stories but that had not arisen in the 37 stories read through. In this way, they added the issue of lack of special services/facilities for persons with disabilities and older people. The community peer researchers then worked in groups to discuss each issue. They were asked to We can also make change 21

22 draw on examples from the stories they collected and their own experiences in order to answer the following questions: • Who does this affect? • Why does this happen? • What can we do to change this? 4.11.2 NGO peer researchers The NGO peer researchers were asked to read through a selection of stories. They were then divided into three groups so they could focus on the following questions: ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD Is there anything that you think is important • in this story? Discuss why. 10 main lines of inquiry, which were discussed and analysed over more than a day. In the analysis, the What is the issue that it raises for persons • NGO peer researchers were asked: with disabilities and older people? What was important and why? • The peer researchers then wrote down each issue identified on a separate Post-it note and stuck the From their experience, was it a common • issues on a large map made of eight sheets of flip pattern? chart paper taped together. On the back of the Were there stories that were surprising, • Post-it notes, they wrote the reference to the story and why? that the issue came from (to ease story and quote identification for analysis and writing up, later). As How did they explain what was in the • the Post-it notes were written in Bangla, they were stories? simultaneously translated and an English version What did they think needed to be done • also placed on the map. about it? The NGO peer researchers selected parts of stories which illustrated issues and clustered the Post-it notes as they placed them on the map. For 4.12 Verification workshop: example, “A woman who was raped was forced June 2013 from the village because the man who raped her was the son of a powerful person in the village”, All the peer researchers reviewed the report once was placed next to the rape of a girl who worked it was drafted by the facilitators at a verification in a clothing factory by her manager because the workshop in June 2013. The peer researchers manager was protected by the owner and the family read the report and verified that it was an accurate was also forced to leave. These were clustered with representation of their discussions and analysis. other stories about rape where justice could not Modifications were made when needed. be obtained. These clusters formed the categories for discussion by the group which resulted in the analysis. With each round of stories read, more Post-it notes were layered on the map. This resulted in more than We can also make change 22

23 We can also make change 23

24 ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD

25 5. Analysis and discussion Both the community peer researchers and the NGO peer researchers acknowledged very similar issues. These are discussed and analysed below. Two issues were only identified by the NGO peer researchers: rape and sexual harassment; and the role of NGOs. These are explained at the end of the current section. I was crying so much that I couldn’t even 5.1 Accidents and disasters speak or move. Then, people picked me up. 5.1.1 Accidents or natural disasters My body was shaking and legs trembling. causing disability I couldn’t say anything because I was kaviraj [local unconscious by then ... The In a number of stories heard, persons with traditional healer] treated me. The incident disabilities explained they became disabled as happened in the village. They ground a result of an accident or a natural disaster. For some herbs and told my aunt to bind example, one mother explained how her son them around my leg.” became intellectually impaired: Mila, aged 65, Bhashantek 5.1.2 Disability and older age contributing “It happened when he was six or seven ... there was a big hole in front to higher risk of accidents of my house which he fell down. After he was Persons with disabilities and older people are at rescued he became like this ... He can’t talk higher risk of accidents. For instance, people with properly ... he suffers from convulsions every visual impairments risk being hit by a car if they few days. He can’t find food, he doesn’t know cross the road alone while older people can be how to search for money. If people give him physically weak and fragile. An older women shared four or five taka for a whole day’s work, he her story: doesn’t say anything ... He can’t differentiate between one taka and 10 taka ... He fell from “I used to work as a housemaid a CNG [motorised rickshaw] a few days ago ... ... I can’t anymore because of the We feel bad, he can’t understand anything. weakness in my legs. I don’t have the strength We couldn’t arrange a marriage anymore. My feet feel numb and when I try to for him. Now he just sits in his own walk I bump into things and fall over. excrement.” I broke my leg. Look at the scars ... [This has Mother of Mishkat, aged 45, happened] many times. Just a few Cox’s Bazar months ago I broke my leg ... A woman with a physical impairment also shared [it’s happened] two or three times.” her story about the accident and lack of medical Sadia, aged about 80, Bhashantek treatment that caused her disability: Persons with disabilities and older people are also more likely to be injured or killed in a natural “I was chasing after my son and my disaster. During floods, they find it difficult to foot got caught in a doorway. As reach shelters because they sometimes cannot soon as I tried to get up I started screaming move as fast as others to find a safe place. Other and shouting ... everybody in the road people become busy with their own safety in these gathered and started calling my mother who situations, often leaving the elderly in the home to started calling my aunt ... Then everybody take care of the belongings. came running and asked, ‘What’s the matter, what’s the matter – why are you lying down?’ We can also make change 25

26 researcher from Cox’s Bazar, said that in her old school there were two children with disabilities, 5.1.3 What should be done? one from a rich family and one a poor one. The Raise awareness about disasters father of the boy from the rich family was friends We need to raise awareness about natural with the headmaster, so the headmaster gave a disasters through the media. We need a stipend to his friend’s son. When the poorer boy campaign to warn us and explain how to failed to receive support, Nazma’s disability self-help prevent and cope with disasters. When a group and [the NGO] SARED intervened, but the disaster signal comes, the authorities should headmaster still refused to support the poor boy. prioritise relocating people with disabilities Local government has since told the headmaster and older people. Information and training on that in future a poorer boy should receive any disasters needs to be available in Braille, sign available stipend, but the poor boy in this particular language and pictures. They should also raise situation is still paying fees. awareness for members of the community to look out for and rescue older people and The community peer researchers said that education people with disabilities. Local government is free, but every year parents of students still need to needs to distribute information about what to pay from 400 to 3,000 taka a year for things that are do in a natural disaster. not included (school bags, school uniform pencils, eraser, sharpeners, etc.). The researchers believed Raise awareness about accidents parents should not be charged. Additionally, we need a campaign to raise awareness of accidents that can cause disability. 5.2.2 Lack of infrastructure and facilities Older people and people with disabilities need The NGO peer researchers agreed that children information, but also the general public and with disabilities rarely access education. Those government must understand risks. NGOs with hearing and speech impairments, or who are should raise awareness about how to reduce blind, or have low vision suffer the most because it the risk of accidents and how to prevent is difficult for them to follow lessons. Teachers often accidents, for example safe movement and teach by reading out texts, so if children cannot traffic-safety awareness training. Perhaps we hear or see they cannot learn. could have an accident prevention day? We should encourage people to use bridges and The situation has improved for children with not cross roads. disabilities, but not enough, they said. One example of improvement they gave is the introduction of ramps in all government primary schools. The government has also included disability in teacher- 5.2 Access to education training curricula. The NGO peer researchers 5.2.1 Lack of money and stipends explained while this is not good enough, at least government has taken the initiative. They pointed Many poor persons with disabilities and older out that there are very few specialised schools people cannot afford to pay school fees for for children with disabilities and these are not dependent children, said the community peer accessible to people who are poor. There are one researchers. There are education stipends for or two schools that provide free education, but children with disabilities, but they are limited in competition for a place is high and the very poor, number and sometimes corruption surrounds their who live in slums, do not know that these services distribution. The decision as to who gets one is are available. In rural areas, specialist schools are made by central government, which has a list of only available at divisional level and it is not possible children with disabilities in each district. for children with disabilities to get to them. Nazma Akter Rasheda, a community peer We can also make change 26

27 In addition, these are residential schools with costs attached so, again, the poorest cannot access them. Under the Department of Social Services there are schools for children who are blind or have low vision in 64 districts, but many of these schools are not functioning. Either there are no teachers, or the teachers are not working effectively, or people are not informed that the schools exist. The community peer researchers stated that many children with disabilities are unable to go to school because of their physical impairments. For example, classes may be up stairs. Teachers also lack awareness about disability and there is a lack of appropriately trained teachers, for example those who can teach in sign language. Central government is committed to enrolling all children in school but monitoring is weak, they said. Local-level officers do not monitor school enrolment and are unaware of the rights of children with disabilities. There is no Braille or sign language so the children themselves do not want to go to school. ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers The community peer researchers added Many classes “When she grew up, her parents that government are 100 enrolled her in the school. Either is not supportive. her father or mother used to drop her at the students There are insufficient school, but she wanted to go to school by per teacher schools and the herself. But when she went alone, children teacher-student and 60-70 is used to tease and beat her. She couldn’t ratio is too high. concentrate on class work for long. She common. The standard ratio studied as long as the teacher forced her to is 45 students per study. Even in school her classmates disturbed teacher, but many classes are 100 students per her in every way. In response, she quarreled teacher and 60-70 is common. Given this situation, with them and returned home alone. She can’t teachers avoid weak and slow-learning students bath by herself. Someone has to take care of (including students with disabilities). these things. She can’t eat properly. Even if she gets hungry, she doesn’t ask for food. If her 5.2.3 Disability discrimination and bullying mother reminds her, she eats. Sometimes she A lack of disability awareness means there is cries out while sleeping. She wants to study at discrimination, the peer researchers said. Children home and sits with her books. But when she with disabilities are sometimes not admitted to can’t read she gets frustrated and leaves the school because it is believed other children would lessons. Everyone is worried about be scared of them. When they are admitted, they her future. After all, she is a girl and can be bullied and not treated with respect. how will she survive?” A woman told the peer researchers the story of her Grandmother of 13-year-old Abida, granddaughter who has an intellectual impairment: Cox’s Bazar We can also make change 27

28 blind or have low vision are only for boys. There are no hostels for girls to live in while at school. Some specialised private initiatives may have opportunities for girls but this is rare. Only five divisional schools have provisions for both boys and girls. 5.2.5 Unsupportive family If parents are illiterate, they may not understand the value of education for their children with disabilities, said the NGO peer researchers. They may prefer to send their children out to work or out begging. ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD Parents of children with disabilities said someone needs to be with their child at all times and they do 5.2.4 Gender discrimination not believe the schools will provide sufficient care. Families are less likely to send girls with disabilities Besides, some families do not believe their children to school because of gender discrimination, the with disabilities are capable of learning. Md Al Amin, community peer researchers said. They explained an NGO peer researcher, said after he received an there are insufficient schools for girls and it is education and started working, he was held up unsafe for them to go to school, especially girls by his village as an example to younger people. with disabilities. In rural areas, parents have to He related the story of a school in a village where work so they have little time to accompany their he worked, which had no children with disabilities daughters to school. The NGO peer researchers attending it. As he knew the women’s group in the added that the families of girls with disabilities feel village, he introduced two children to the group, insecure about sexual harassment so are even more one with a hearing impairment and one with low reluctant to send their daughters to school. vision, to show how these children were capable of learning. One child used a hearing aid and the other Samira Khatun, an NGO peer researcher, said her a magnifying glass. After seeing this, the mothers family had always encouraged her. She has been in started taking their children with disabilities to higher education for three years. But village people school, Md Al Amin said. have a negative attitude because she lives away from home. She said they do not believe she leaves home for education only and this is embarrassing 5.2.6 What should be done? for her. A few days ago, she reported, she met two Provide for and promote inclusive boys. One said: “Where is she going? We heard education she was doing education – but God knows what There are school management committees she really does.” Samira said that even those who formed by élites and civil society. These support girls’ education at primary level change should be made aware of the rights of children their position at secondary level. They are more with disabilities and they should monitor the interested in their enrolment rates of children with disabilities. daughters getting The 64 schools Additional accessible facilities and adapted married – to get rid for children teaching materials are needed. Non-disabled of her and to get a students get free books, but students who are who are blind dowry. blind or have low vision have to pay for Braille or have low The NGO peer books. Braille must be introduced into schools researchers said vision are only and teachers trained in Braille. We need to that the 64 schools for boys. provide hearing aids, and white canes. for children who are We can also make change 28

29 families do not support them have to beg. An older Donors should put pressure on the government woman with a physical impairment told the peer to promote inclusive education. There are researchers: special integrated schools for students who are blind or have low vision, but we need “I used to work, but since I broke my more. It is the responsibility of government to legs I’ve had to beg. Otherwise I go set up special schools. But NGOs also have a without food ... I have to. Without responsibility – through advocacy for example. begging I wouldn’t be able to live ... NGOs and the government should work I have no choice but begging.” together. Laboni, aged 70, Bhashantek Ensure jobs for educated persons with The mother of a boy with an intellectual impairment disabilities told them: Education relates to employment. If your education does not help you get a job, the next “[My son] can’t talk. He can’t generation will not be inspired to get educated. communicate, even to tell me he So there needs to be job opportunities for wants to eat. He begs from people, people with disabilities who are educated. asks for food or anything. He’s had Work with families this problem since childhood.” Awareness-raising activities should be Mother of 18-year-old Akid, conducted among families. In remote rural Bhashantek areas people do not believe that people with Even persons with disabilities who have an disabilities can learn. They have never seen this education but no money to invest in a business so we need to show examples. are forced to beg. Salamot Ullah, one of the If we really want to send children with community peer researchers from Cox’s Bazar, disabilities to school we need to provide who has a physical impairment, explained that their families with livelihood options. We he was asked for a 50,000 taka bribe when he need incentives. For example, there was applied to be the Principle of a madrasa (an Islamic a programme which gave a stipend to the school). Eventually, he was given an assistant’s job, children so they could go to school. It also but his salary was irregular and not the same as offered a loan to the family so parents could other teachers. Difficulties were made for him and fill the financial gap that the child left by not eventually he left. He said: working anymore. “Qualified disabled people can’t afford these bribes. People without 5.3 Livelihoods disabilities have alternative options if they The issue of a lack of a livelihood featured in almost can’t get a job. They can be self-employed. all the stories collected by the peer researchers. But people with disabilities don’t have as many alternatives. People with disabilities can’t 5.3.1 Difficulty finding a job due to disability influence powerful people. In general, There are too many people in Bangladesh, the people have negative attitudes about community peer researchers said, making it disability, so they don’t employ us.” difficult for everyone to find a job; persons with Salamot Ullah, Cox’s Bazar, disabilities find it even more difficult. Persons with community peer researcher disabilities who have had no education and whose We can also make change 29

30 The NGO peer researchers said that employment is The community Many a number one priority for persons with disabilities. peer researchers Those who find work also find positive regard from agreed and stated organisations their families and communities. Many stories told that vocational skills just hire how people who had been helped into livelihoods training for persons orphans and gained greater acceptance. For example, several with disabilities and stories illustrated a lack of belief in what persons adult education persons with with disabilities can do until they started working. was needed to disabilities are encourage self- One story stated that “with income, acceptance left behind. employment. increases”. Another story told how a girl gained However, even when greater acceptance in her family after she got a job training works well, they said, life in Bangladesh in a garment factory. Almost all the positive stories is so precarious everything can fall apart in an of persons with disabilities who found a way out of instant. One story told how a man with disabilities begging involved some sort of small shop: was trained to work with poultry and provided with 15,000 taka for investment to start a business. “Now, he works with his sewing Everything was going well until a cyclone in 2007 machine. He opened a shop, and damaged his property. He returned to his former, there he sews with the machine and earns poor life and is not interested in taking another loan money to support his family. When he started because of the difficulty in paying it back. to sew clothes the villagers didn’t want to give The NGO peer researchers added that those living him work. Gradually, one or two people gave in poverty do not have time to support livelihood him clothes to sew and they saw that he did training for their children. They told the story of how the work well. Others also started to one NGO arranged for a group of children with give him work and understood that hearing and speech impairments to be trained in he can do this work.” making and then marketing paper bags. On the day Nazrul Islam, NGO story of the training, only six children turned up. People who are poor cannot afford to give up their time for training, they explained. In any case, the teacher doing the training knew sign language but not sign language in the right dialect to communicate with the group. Ten per cent employment quotas have been created by the government in the public sector so persons with disabilities and orphans are hired. However, the reality is that many organisations just hire orphans, said the community peer researchers, and persons with disabilities are left behind. In the leading industry, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has a policy for a 5 per cent quota for persons with disabilities. ADD has an agreement to supply skilled persons with disabilities under that quota, but it is difficult for them to find the right people to do this work. Many garment factories have 15, 16 or 17 floors and ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD We can also make change 30

31 no lifts so it is difficult to work there if you have a disabilities; whether or not they are educated, physical disability. However, garment factories prefer cannot find jobs because people do not want people who have hearing or speech impairments to hire them. because they think they will work better, and 5.3.3 Access to affordable credit because they can climb stairs. Many NGOs offer loans, but while the NGO peer 5.3.2 Begging as a livelihood choice researchers heard stories of people who managed The NGO peer researchers heard many stories to set up businesses with their loans, there were about begging. For most persons with disabilities also stories of people who got into serious debt. begging is not an option; it is the only way to For example, some people borrowed money to tide obtain food and survive. There were stories of older them through short-term crises, but they ended up people who could not get jobs and of persons with with long-term debts with no lasting solutions to disabilities people believed were unable to work. their problems. There were a few examples of loans The NGO peer researchers said countless people making a difference, but mostly people were not do not receive pensions, but for those that do, 300 given enough money to start a successful business, taka a month was simply not enough to live on. In and so they ended up spending the money on general there was a perception that there are no essentials. Additionally, many older people do not livelihood options for people with no limbs. get loans: For some, begging was seen as a good living “A number of people can do bamboo and one story talked of begging as an addiction. and rattan-related works, make Begging was seen as less laborious and more baskets, especially nets which are used to beneficial than other work. The NGO peer catch crabs. They need some capital for doing researchers’ group discussion noted how one man these works, but because they’re too old they with a disability was provided with a teashop so he can’t take a loan from any NGO or government could sell tea, but he decided not to keep it going bank because these people believe because he could earn more by begging. that they’ll not be paid back when The community peer researchers said that poorer the old people die.” persons with disabilities and older people go to the Kya Swichen Rakhain, NGO story cities to beg as it is hard to make a living begging in For others, the money borrowed simply was not rural areas. People who live alone in rural areas ask enough to make a difference: their neighbours for money because they cannot get enough from begging. For example, it is difficult to beg in the Cox’s Bazar region as it is hilly and “We have some groups where there houses are remote. are many physically impaired people. When people climb For most We gave them tricycles and money to do a hill and go to a persons with business. However they spent all their money house there is no and are back doing their old job again. We disabilities: guarantee they will helped them as much as we could to pull them begging is get money, and it out from their begging occupation. They took is difficult to climb their sole the money to run a tea-and-biscuits business. a hill if you have However, they spent all of their means of a disability. The money and began to beg again by surviving and community peer using our tricycles.” researchers added finding food. NGO peer group researcher that persons with We can also make change 31

32 The NGO peer researchers heard a story about a instance, the government agreed to give loans to 60-year-old woman who had managed to find a job persons with disabilities but asked 25,000 taka as a through the help of her chairman: deposit which is not realistic. Some rich people also offer loans but the interest rate is too high. “The chairman managed an elderly Other systems exist: The agricultural bank lends allowance card for her. She received 10,000-15,000 taka to farmers. The bank collects the money in a lump sum after six months. the money from the farmers based on a percentage After getting the money she opened a shop of their profits. There is also a village system, in to sell little odds and ends, biscuits, peanuts, which people can borrow money and agree to pay pickles etc. After seeing this, the elders a certain amount back at a fixed rate of interest. If committee gave her 600 taka by collecting repayments cannot be made, the interest goes up. from their savings and told her to repay it on There is a mortgage system too where land or cattle a monthly basis. The elders started to do their can be mortgaged for cash. A man with a visual business with her shop to increase her sales impairment told a community peer researcher: and their profit. Now she attends meetings and as her status has increased after “I started my own business making joining the elders committee so her straw with a loan from an NGO, and courage has increased.” then later from the local government. I have Hosne Ara Khuku, NGO story to pay interest on the loan from the Often relatives local government and I’ve had many of persons with problems with this loan.” It is very disabilities exploit Abir, aged 40, Cox’s Bazar difficult for the loan system. The community peer researchers explained that The NGO peer persons with sometimes people find loans from persons who are researchers’ group disabilities blind or have low vision, and then they fail to pay discussion heard the money back or try to con the person with visual and older how the parents impairments, “because they think we can’t see and of one girl with a people to they can do this to us”. disability received obtain loans a loan because of 5.3.4 Pensions and disability allowance their daughter’s from a bank The government has limited resources to provide disability. However stipends, but it is trying, the peer researchers said. or NGO. this resulted in the However, there are biases and local government disability allowance officials provide support to their relatives or people she received being cut, even though she had not from the same party. Also, people are unaware of received any of the loan money herself. what they are entitled to, there are fewer resources The community peer researchers also thought for persons with disabilities than for others, and access to credit was a problem. They said banks both persons with disabilities and older people do will not give persons with disabilities and older not know how to get the stipends. people loans while, NGOs tend to give them to They explained that the Vulnerable Group people without disabilities and young people. Development (VGD) provides free rice and flour, There is a belief that older people do not earn and which widows can access. At age 65, there is persons with disabilities cannot work, so neither also a pension of 300 taka a month, which people can pay the loans back. Various initiatives have should receive on top of their disability allowance, been created but they are not always genuine. For We can also make change 32

33 but often older people only get one allowance. For four years the disability allowance has not 5.3.5 What should be done? increased, they said, nor the number of people Provide training receiving it. The amount is insufficient and the There are successful initiatives for getting government says it will increase the allowance, but people into employment. The garment industry it never does. A realistic amount to live on would is very strong here. One NGO thought, “Why be 2,000 taka per month in Bhashantek. Another don’t we try to get people with disabilities jobs problem is that people have to pay bribes to get the in the garments industry?” At first, owners were forms for pensions and disability allowances. One unconvinced. But they trained 12 people and community peer researcher from Bhashantek said: it worked very well. After this example, other factories became interested. So far they have trained more than 300 people. NGOs can take “[Persons with disabilities] need to this kind of initiative, like ADD who provides get a higher allowance. For 10 taka a workers for big shoe shops. day we can only get a cup of tea. I’m a self-help leader. People ask me how to get the disability Increase quotas allowance and I can’t answer them. There aren’t The jobs quota in the public sector should only enough allowances. I collected a disability cover persons with disabilities and there should allowance form and photocopied it for 20 people, also be a quota covering the private sector. For but the government officer wouldn’t accept jobs in the public sector, the educational level the photocopied version. Family members requirement for persons with disabilities within were angry with me because they didn’t get the quotas should be lower. the allowance. The present Government has Facilitate loans and increase stipends stopped the distribution of forms now. Under the Ministry of Social Welfare, people The pension for older people and the with disabilities can get 5,000 and 10,000 disability allowance is too low, 300 taka taka loans, but the government cannot afford per month is not enough.” to give this to everyone. In consequence, the Selina Begum, Bhashantek, procedure is very selective. The loan should be community peer researcher given to more people. The number of stipends also needs increasing. The government needs to increase the amount of tax to pay for this. For example, if you start a business, you should have to pay a licence. Promote awareness and transparencies Greater awareness is needed about disability and ageing. Local government and social workers need lists of people with disabilities and older people. This would make it easier to plan how to distribute allowances. There should be a transparent system to show how the money is distributed. The different committees could discuss how this process can be more transparent. The District Social Welfare office should lead this process, while it should be monitored by the District Disability ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers We can also make change 33

34 hospitals do take care of us, but Federation. NGOs that work with persons with they’re a long way away. Private disabilities and older people should advocate clinics don’t treat emergency cases.” with social welfare officers and the Ministry of Mohammad Akkas Molla, Bhashantek Social Welfare for these changes. community peer researcher, Provide opportunities in rural areas The cost of medical treatment can also prevent There is a difference between opportunities in older people and persons with disabilities from urban areas, where there is more industry, and seeking medical care. The mother of a girl with rural areas. There is a need to invest in industry multiple physical and intellectual impairments in rural areas. Some women who do not have shared her experience: disabilities do handicrafts and work in co- operatives. Women with disabilities could “My daughter can’t speak. She can’t also do this to provide an income. hear. She can’t go out of the house. She beats people, she’s violent and people judge her. I’m worried, but what can I do? She’s been 5.4 Medical treatment born into a poor family ... All day I worry, what will happen to her after my death? ... 5.4.1 The cost of treatment She can’t be treated because we are Stories told to the community peer researchers poor. Her father has no work.” revealed that older people and people with disabilities Mother of 26-year-old Shoma, find it difficult to pay for the medical care they need. Cox’s Bazar An older man from Bhashantek slum shared his story: It is not just the cost of treatment for an older person or a person with disabilities that causes “There’s no money, so what will I use problems in accessing care. One mother of a boy to have treatment? They take money with a speech impairment explained how the cost of for everything. For my nose operation they treatment for his sick father meant she was unable said it would cost 10,000-20,000 taka. Now I to take her son for the treatment he needed: can’t be cured because I lack money. If I had money, I could have treated myself ... I could breathe properly.” “We didn’t [see a doctor] because Mamun, aged 65, Bhashantek we hadn’t enough money. [My son’s] father was seriously sick then, and has been One of the community peer researchers from sick these last three years. We’ve spent a lot of Bhashantek, Mohammad Akkas Molla, who has a money on his treatment. Hardly a day passes visual impairment, explained that when he went to a without borrowing [money] from government hospital he needed a ticket for 20 taka. people. That’s why we haven’t taken Then the doctor asked him to pay for the x-ray. He my son for treatment.” said: Mother of seven-year-old Parvaz, Cox’s Bazar “For just a [hospital] appointment, A lack of access to government services can also it costs 20 taka, but any tests or mean the cost of treatment increases and makes medicine are extra. We can’t afford it and we it more difficult for older persons and persons with come back without being treated. For example, disabilities to access health care. Government you have to pay more than 500 taka for a hospitals are very far from people’s homes in bag of blood. If there’s an accident and we Bhashantek, the community peer researchers said, need emergency health care the government We can also make change 34

35 and the private clinics nearby are very expensive. people and those with influence getting quicker Private clinics will not give older people free treatment. People who support the party in power treatment. An older woman told them: get treatment first. There are no separate queues for persons with disabilities or older people. “I suffered a stroke a year ago and The NGO peer researchers said that in government since then I’ve been very sick. I wasn’t hospitals, brokers and agents from different clinics even able to speak. But with the help of other and private organisations try to mislead people people I’ve gradually felt a little better and now from rural areas who have little understanding of the I’m just surviving, somehow... I don’t have any system. “Rural people fall into cheating traps and money. How can I see a doctor? My lose money,” they said. legs and hands are very weak. I feel Other examples of corruption they noted included: pain. There’s no strength left in me.” Rupa, aged 65, Bhashantek hospital employees selling medicines • outside the hospital. 5.4.2 Corruption and discrimination blood being sold. • There are too many patients and too few beds in government hospitals, said the community peer • poor patients not being allocated beds. researchers. There are always long queues to get poor people lying on the floor. • treatment and medicine, and brokers must be paid to jump the queue. This means that poor persons with disabilities often go without treatment. They added that there is also discrimination, with younger 5.4.3 Medical knowledge Doctors have little Doctors understanding about disabilities, have little agreed the peer understanding researchers. One about of them told a story about going disabilities, to a hospital for agreed treatment. He had a the peer high fever and was researchers. also in a wheelchair. The doctor assumed he was using the wheelchair because he had a high fever. The behaviour of the medical staff is bad, the community peer researchers said, and they give incorrect treatment: “They always give paracetamol and a saline drip, whatever is wrong,” one said. They said poor people do not get good service. One of the community peer researchers from Cox’s Bazar related a story about a widow who went to hospital with a stomach ache: ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers We can also make change 35

36 “This widow hadn’t eaten properly for 28 days because of her grief, but 5.4.5 What should be done? the doctor [at the hospital] mistreated her, Promote inclusive health care insulted her verbally and didn’t understand There are many ways in which the health what was wrong with her. Because system can be improved to make it easier for doctors think they’ll never lose their people who have a disability and older people job, the hospital staff aren’t good.” to receive the care they need. Doctors should Nazma Akter Rasheda, Cox’s Bazar, be given training so that they know how to community peer researcher behave with people who have a disability and older people. Community level health care Another community workers also need training so they can give peer researcher There are proper treatment. from Cox’s Bazar, many ways Mohammad Fazlul People with disabilities and older people need in which Haque, recalled to have greater access to healthcare services. the health having a motorcycle To help with this people with disabilities accident and system can be and older people should be given priority injuring his leg. in hospitals. Hospitals should also provide improved to He went to the separate and special facilities to support make it easier hospital. However, people with disabilities, for example the use because he said, for people of Braille. the doctors get who have a Tackle access-to-income issues illegal commission disability. The cost of medical treatment is an important to prescribe certain barrier to healthcare for people with disabilities medicines the and older people. Both populations believe doctor examined him and over-treated him while he that if they have higher incomes, they will be was asleep. The doctor gave him a very large bill more able to afford medical treatment. People and he had to pay. He never knew whether or not with disabilities and older people need to be he had needed the medicine. supported to increase their income so that they 5.4.4 Alternative medicine can pay for medical treatment. The cost of medical treatment and medicines The government provides some support, but means that people try traditional medicine instead the administrators are not giving the poor what of taking persons with disabilities to hospital. The they are entitled to because of corruption. father of a man with a physical impairment told a Those with more influence, for example, community peer researcher: younger people or people who support the party in power, receive treatment before people with disabilities or older people. Separate “We’ve tried a lot [for my son], but queues would help people with disabilities and Allah didn’t make it so he could walk. older people to be treated first. We gave him medicine. People told us to make a hole in the ground for him to kneel in, but it didn’t work. We tied bamboo to his leg, but we couldn’t make him better. We didn’t continue with more treatment because of a lack of money.” Father of 22-year-old Khan, Cox’s Bazar We can also make change 36

37 5.5 Family support 5.5.1 Older people lacking family support For older people, the problem of family members moving away or not taking care of them is pervasive, said the community peer researchers. Families think older people are a burden. As they are not earning, they cannot contribute to the family income. Older people explained they have dreams for their children to be educated, but when the children leave to get married they are left alone. The son’s wife may ask her husband to leave his parents to save money. An older man told a community ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers peer researcher: Another said: “Our sons have separated from us. It is just the two of us – husband and “I don’t have any sons. I have four wife – living here. We’re passing through life daughters. They are all married ... with many troubles ... Our two sons live with They’re busy with their own families. I don’t their wives ... I sell wood here and have any sons, and my daughters there, but then I have to beg from don’t look after me anymore.” my sons.” Nipa, aged 70, Bhanshantek Akash, 95 years old, Cox’s Bazar The community peer researchers said that if people Another older man said: have no sons they seek a good, honest husband for their daughter so the husband will be like a son and look after them. They will try to convince a daughter’s “My problem is that since I was about husband to continue to support them. Generally, 60 I’ve at times found it impossible daughters are more caring towards their parents to eat, and at other times I don’t eat. than their sons, the peer researchers explained, Sometimes my sons give me a lot, but sometimes a husband is not supportive and a sometimes they don’t.” daughter has to stop providing for her parents. This Kamrul, aged 78, Cox’s Bazar can lead to marriages breaking up, they added. The problem is worse if you do not have sons, the A widow with only daughters might go and live with community peer researchers said, as traditionally a daughter, the community peer researchers said. men stay with their family when they get married If the family has property, it will go to the husband and women move to their in-laws. An older woman so there is an incentive to do this, they said. told them: Older people are often ashamed of the circumstances they find themselves in. An older “Why will my daughters help? I’ve women shared her story: married them off ... They themselves can barely manage, how will they “I am facing many troubles ... look after me? They’re not well off I have six daughters, all of whom at all.” got married. My only son also got Mamun, aged 65, Bhashantek married but is now separated from me ... We can also make change 37

38 I don’t have any money, I can’t get food and by the community and are left at bus stations, finding I can’t get medical treatment, due to lack of food in nearby shops. They stay there indefinitely. money. I was without food this morning, so In some rural areas, people might give a small I went to my daughter’s house and she gave corner of their garden – a space with a small hut – me one roti [bread] and a cup of tea. Since to an older woman and let her live there. Sometimes then I haven’t eaten, but I can’t tell anyone they give her a small amount of food, or provide because I’m shy. If my daughters give me food, her with zakat (religious money) instead of giving it I eat. Otherwise I go without food ... My son to others. This practice of supporting neighbours doesn’t take care of me. That is the saddest persists in rural areas. thing for me. He doesn’t even ask me how I am But many older people get no support, the NGO if I meet him in the road. Despite having a son, peer researchers explained, and they can die as a I have to beg from others. Many people think result, although this is rare in a rural setting. Nasima that because I have a son I don’t need help. So Khatun, an NGO peer researcher, heard the story of I don’t get help from the chairman or members a 75-year-old man: of the village. They help others, but they don’t help me ... I feel shame to [ask my daughters for help], that’s why I “This man lives in Malita village of don’t go to them easily.” Polash, Charsindhu Union. He was Saba, aged 70, Cox’s Bazar a freedom fighter. He has four daughters and two sons. He kept his children for a long time The NGO peer researchers heard similar stories by doing business. His daughters were married of older people being abandoned in old age. into a good family. The daughters were solvent Sometimes older people are sent to a city centre to also. However he can’t earn as he did before as beg, they said. Sometimes they ask to be put there he’s suffering from illness. His wife no longer does her duties as she was supposed to do before. She eats with her sons and he eats by cooking his own food. He receives the freedom fighter allowance every three months. His wife and sons take this allowance forcefully when he brings it home. Afterwards they don’t even care for him. In fact, he is tormented by his sons. He complained about this matter to the commander and the chairman of Charsindhu. But his wife and children don’t listen to anyone. If we go to them, they say they don’t do anything like that. They avoid us. Afterwards they torment him. I collected some information and found that it’s true that his family members can’t tolerate him because he can’t earn as he used to earn before.” Nasima Khatun, NGO peer researcher ©Peter Caton/Sightsavers We can also make change 38

39 Nasima heard another story: 5.5.3 What should be done? Promote self-esteem “Old people who aren’t capable of We need to educate people with disabilities working are seen as a burden on and older people so they understand that they the family. Some men and their wives say are not guilty. It is not their fault. They did not that it is better to have a debt of 10,000 taka choose to become disabled or get old. They rather than an old person in the have a right to a life like others. They should family. This problem can only be realise they are part of the family. solved if old people start to earn.” Nasima Khatun, NGO peer researcher Support independent livelihoods We are not happy to be seen as a burden to 5.5.2 Persons with disabilities lacking others, we want to establish ourselves and support become independent. Family members and Families and community often fail to support neighbours have to be supportive and they persons with disabilities, said the peer researchers. need to create employment opportunities for They pay little attention to them and their needs and people with disabilities and older people. We do not show any signs of respect. A woman with a can then be financially independent. For older physical impairment told a peer researcher: people who do not have anyone in their family, shelter within the community is needed – homes managed by the community. “My family doesn’t respect me. They don’t hear me. If I say anything, they call me a bad name. Apart from my daughter, nobody respects my voice. Nobody cares for 5.6 Exclusion and mistreatment me. My husband neglects me greatly. 5.6.1 Exclusion and mistreatment of He doesn’t provide me with sufficient persons with disabilities by family food, medicine, betel leaf and nut. members He always scolds me.” Priya, aged 55, Cox’s Bazar Mistreatment is an issue affecting many persons with disabilities, according to the stories heard by A woman with a visual impairment explained: the community peer researchers. A woman with a visual impairment told a peer researcher: “I can’t [attend functions]. If I ask my nephew or niece to take me, they “I have four children, two sons and go without me. I can’t move alone ... Who will two daughters. My elder son died take me to functions? My parents and siblings at an early age and my elder daughter got have died. I can’t wash my clothes properly, married but she doesn’t live with us. My son-in- I can’t wash my blankets. I need help to be law is very rude to me. He behaves very badly able to do this work ... There are some people towards me as I am blind and poor. He’s never who want to help me, but I can’t visit them respected me as a mother-in-law. Rather, he on my own. That’s why I often can’t eat. calls me ‘ ’ [a slang term for a blind or kaani When I go outside, sometimes people give me visually impaired girl or woman] and uses slang 10 or 50 taka to buy something to ... He knew about my condition before getting eat, but as I’m visually impaired no married to my daughter but now he doesn’t one wants to go market with me.” care. He doesn’t like me because I’m blind and Laboni, aged 55, Cox’s Bazar We can also make change 39

40 I beg for money. He says he didn’t get married Persons with disabilities are constantly teased, the with a kaani ’s daughter ... community peer researchers said. People use slang and bad words to describe them. Families believe Society doesn’t accept me. I’m neglected persons with disabilities to be incapable and a by everyone. No one wants to mix with burden. They are not seen as human beings: “They me. People don’t behave well towards me. don’t know that we have hidden creative potential,” They use slang and scold me for mistakes I a community peer researcher said. A girl with a haven’t made. For example, take the common physical impairment told a peer researcher: washroom. If someone leaves it dirty after using it, people will blame me because I’m blind and the chances are I’ve left it that way, “I can’t walk much, my legs and back which I didn’t. Besides, they call me a symbol start aching if I walk ... Everybody of misfortune ... ’ [a slang term for someone lengra calls me with a disability]. My parents and brothers and My husband has never recognised my ... It hurts me when they sisters call me lengra contribution and help in his life. Rather, he’s lengra . I’m lame, so they use this name call me always regretted marrying me. My brother for me. If I make a mistake, they mock and sister have helped me several times by me by using this name. Outsiders also giving monetary support, but my husband mock me by using this word.” was never thankful for that. He always blames Nipu, aged 15, Cox’s Bazar me and regrets his marriage to me. He complains that he got nothing from me, The mother of a girl with a physical impairment said: I could not do anything for him. He wants me to prepare his food whenever he “My daughter can’t bathe herself wants it, which can even be early and neither can she comb her hair ... 3am in the morning.” She can’t use her hands for anything ... That’s Abida, age not known, Bhashantek why her younger brothers beat her, and even neighbours bully her. People ask, ‘Why is your 5.6.2 Exclusion and mistreatment daughter like this?’ ... People gossip a lot. of persons with disabilities by the They say, ‘You won’t be able to get your community daughter married’ and ‘You’ll always have Life is especially hard for woman with disabilities to look after her at home’ ... [They] who cannot go outside and are hidden in the talk in an ugly manner home. Men have more opportunities to bargain and make ugly remarks.” and communicate with the outside world, said the Mother of nine-year-old Megh, Cox’s Bazar community peer researchers. A young man with a physical impairment explained, The NGO peer researchers agreed that persons in his story, that he felt excluded from participating with disabilities face in activities. He told a peer researcher: many challenges Persons with every day. They said disabilities people’s general “All my friends can drive a are constantly attitude is, “I am motorcycle, but I can’t drive. My going somewhere. teased. People friends can play cricket, but I can’t ... Then There is a disabled use slang and there are obstacles to studying as well, and person in front of obstacles to work. This happens to people me and I have to bad words to with disabilities. I can only do some work. I overtake him, so I describe them. face many problems because of my disability push him.” We can also make change 40

41 ... I can’t help my parents now I’m grown up and it’s pathetic. Only having one hand is a pain for me.” Sujan, aged 18, Cox’s Bazar People with speech impairments face particular difficulties as they cannot tell anyone about their mistreatment. The grandmother of a girl with a hearing and speech impairment shared her story: “In school, the other students make remarks. [My grand-daughter] cries when they hit her, but she can’t tell me who the students are that do this. She can’t speak of her studies as all her classmates do ... They hit her with stones, but when she returns home she can’t say who has laughed at her and taunted her. She just weeps. So we can’t go to the school and tell them about it ... People taunt and tease her so much ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD that she can’t even go outside.” Akkas Molla, a community peer researcher from Grandmother of seven-year-old Bhashantek, who has a visual impairment, told how Sema, Bhashantek a boy had failed to pay him when he was selling In addition, the peer researchers told how it was herbal medicine. He had felt something itching on common for persons with mental disabilities to be seen his back and then sensed the boy had left. The boy, as unmanageable or violent and to be tied up within the Akkas explained, had dropped liquid on him that house. People in the community like to provoke them irritated to distract him and allow the boy run off. so the family does not allow them to go out. Mohammad Fazlul Haque, a community peer researcher from Cox’s Bazar who is 72 years old, 5.6.3 Exploitation of persons with talked about a lack of respect for older people: disabilities Persons with disabilities are often taken advantage of, the community peer researchers said. For “People who are rich and have status example, people cheat them. A visually impaired are respected when they’re older, but man’s story described what happened when he if you’re poor, people don’t respect you. It’s tried to sell hay in Cox’s Bazar: traditional to respect older people. I think that as the education system has got better people have become less respectful of older people. “People cheated me by Some people are well educated and older, but giving me a false 500 taka they are poor and their clothes are not smart note [in the market].” so people treat them with disrespect. Abir, aged 40, Cox’s Bazar One boy treated me like I was illiterate and The community peer researchers explained that the poor, but when I spoke in English the boy was 500 taka and 50 taka notes are nearly all the same surprised that I knew English. Because I’m size and a similar colour, so people cannot feel the old and don’t dress in a sophisticated way, difference between them. We can also make change 41

42 so becomes more vulnerable than a man, especially if her husband dies. If she gets ill or sick she does not get proper treatment. When older women can no longer work they are regarded as useless. The peer researchers said though that a vulnerable man may suffer even more as women can be better at adapting: “Men are the main decision-makers and when old age comes it becomes difficult for them to obey others’ decisions. They become like an isolated island. Ego issues are stronger for men than for women.” ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers he assumed I was poor and illiterate. Lots of “One older person is a widower. children get educated and get married He leaves the house to take his and leave their elderly parents. This is breakfast and lunch. He thinks his children a form of negligence too.” aren’t happy with him. His wife could have Mohammad Fazlul Haque, Cox’s helped with household work, but he Bazar, community peer researcher can’t, so he thinks he’s a burden on the family.” The NGO peer researchers said the issue of Peer researchers’ group discussion dependency may be a reason people take advantage of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities In most cases, sons are the cause when older men need support from others and this is seen as a suffer, said the NGO peer researchers. Income is a weakness. In addition, persons with disabilities and big issue, and as the older man does not have any older women are usually not literate, so it is easy to income the son considers him a burden. In some cheat them. Mostly, it is family members and other cases, older men without wives are vulnerable influential relatives who exploit them, they said. because they cannot communicate with other members in the family. 5.6.4 Exclusion and exploitation An older woman without a husband is also of older people vulnerable though: Older people frequently find themselves taken advantage of, according to the stories heard by the “We have more widowed older peer researchers. Fatematuz Sohra told the NGO women than men. Women live longer peer researchers the story of a 65-year-old man, and it is common for a woman to marry an who receives a government pension, but “it does not older man. If the woman dies, an older man remain in his hand and he can’t spend the money the has options to get married again, but way he wants to”. an older woman does not have that A strategic mistake of older people is they fail to keep option.” the ownership of their properties, the peer researchers Peer researchers’ group discussion said. “They distribute it to their children and then they The children of a widower want their father to become vulnerable. They think that their children will remarry so they no longer have responsibility for be kind to them, but that is not what happens.” him, the peer researchers said. They try to find The peer researchers also discussed how older a girl from a poor family to marry him. The peer women suffer because they have no property rights. researchers added that usually it is older people A woman needs to depend on a son or others and with many children who suffer most. “They are poor We can also make change 42

43 and have spent all their money. Their children are 5.7 Superstition also poor and they all try to pass on responsibility to 5.7.1 Bad spirits their siblings. If there are few children, then it is clear who is responsible.” It is widely believed in rural areas that disability is the result of a bad spirit visiting a woman during her Widows face particular exclusion issues, the NGO pregnancy, said the community peer researchers. peer researchers stressed. For example, they The grandmother of a girl with an intellectual are not welcome at weddings. “People think that impairment said: something bad will happen if they join in. To stop them participating in any kind of events, people treat widows badly.” “My grand-daughter has had this problem since birth. Everyone says it’s because of 5.6.5 What should be done? bad spirits.” Promote disability rights Grandmother of 13-year-old Abida, We need an awareness-raising campaign to Cox’s Bazar make sure everyone knows about the rights The NGO peer researchers heard similar stories and capabilities of persons with disabilities. and commented that society tends to look down Families should encourage people with on families which have children with disabilities. disabilities and older people to participate For instance, they heard: in different activities. We need to make people aware of the behaviour of people with intellectual disabilities. We need to educate “When I went I saw that it was a people. NGOs cannot do this alone. This needs village in a very rural area ... I saw support from the media and government. If the boy had covered himself with a cloth and influential people are educated, it can have a sat down on his thatched house’s yard ... I stronger impact. went to him and when I sat near him I smelt a bad smell. His condition was very bad. It Promote independent livelihoods seemed like he was near death. He couldn’t People consider those with disabilities as a understand anything, couldn’t hear anyone burden on their family, but if we can create and if someone touched him he felt pain productive work for them, and ensure an and shouted. His face was terrible. He was income contribution to the household, then becoming raw-boned and in a moribund state. maybe the bad treatment will reduce. Income We roamed around the area of his village generation is what is likely to change attitudes. home. Many of the villagers said that the Money talks. . No one goes to their jinn house was caught by Tackle exploitation house. The villagers think that if they We need to make bank notes in different sizes mix with the boy or with his family or print Braille on them. We need community- the jinn will catch their children too.” based groups who are organised against Shofiqul Islam, NGO story cheating and corruption. Not all powerful This latter story had a happy ending, “as ADD was people are bad. There are a few good powerful able to show the village that this was superstition. people. Sometimes in rural areas, people listen After getting a wheelchair, the boy was able to open to professor-type people – those who have a shop which completely changed how he was an education. Powerful people have stopped perceived in the village.” corruption with these very vulnerable groups after being spoken to. We can also make change 43

44 The NGO peer researchers were told the story of a woman with a physical disability who managed to get married, but was tormented by her in-laws. She was then divorced and it was “thought that this was a result of her unknown sin”. In rural areas it is believed that older people with cataract have sinned with their eyes – “the blooming of flowers in their eyes”. The NGO peer researchers heard about a man who had cataracts and went to the local religious person – an (a traditional houjur village healer). The gave the man a piece of houjur stone and told him to scratch his eye twice a day, before dawn. After several days of doing this the cataract became infected and the man was severely injured. He was taken to a Sightsavers centre where ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD a doctor asked him why his eyes were like that. Superstitions do not just apply to persons with After some time, the man told the whole story. disabilities. They also affect the wider family. One 5.7.3 Other myths story told to a peer researcher described a 22-year- old woman with disabilities, who lost her sight as The NGO peer researchers were told the story of a a result of poor treatment. The story told how “her child born with a cleft lip. The parents tried to take younger sister cannot be married for her disability” the child to the doctor, but other family members because “people think that the disability of her elder refused to let the boy go because the cleft lip was sister will come and develop in their family” (Masum considered to be Allah’s good wishes on the family. Khalifa, NGO,story). If the parents tried to correct the lip, then Allah would be unhappy. 5.7.2 ‘Sin’ and ‘bad behaviour’ Other myths the peer researchers were told Other beliefs associate disability with bad behaviour, included: said the community peer researchers. For example, if a child is born with a disability, the parents may “If you are disabled you will have a disabled • have sinned or cheated others; or if a child has an child.” intellectual impairment or develops a behavioural problem, a spirit may have visited them or a bad “Bad luck will come to you if you marry a • person may have touched them. If an older person person with disabilities.” becomes sick suddenly, one belief has it that the “My day depends on whose face I see first. • illness is a punishment from Allah as a result of If it is a person with disabilities or a widow the individual having done something bad in their then the whole day will be bad or my work adolescence. will not be done successfully.” The NGO peer researchers added that people “Persons with disabilities cannot learn or • believe they will have a bad day if they see a child work.” with disabilities in the morning. In addition, parents of children who do not have disabilities do not want “Young girls and boys get hysteria as a • their children to mix with children with disabilities result of jinn .” because they believe their children will become disabled too. Education levels are low, so people have these beliefs and superstitions, they said. We can also make change 44

45 care ends after Provision is childcare, but the 5.7.4 What should be done? health effects of child needed for Run disability-awareness campaigns bearing continue There should be a media campaign about home care, into old age. Many disability and the true causes of it. We need but health older women suffer to give the right message and information that from fistula or from professionals people with disabilities and older people are prolapse, but only are not trained also part of society and have the same rights. limited services are We also need to educate people to understand for this. available. that people with disabilities can contribute. Mobility problems also mean older people find it We could draw murals about disability in poor hard to get to health centres. They need support communities. We could organise a meeting to get there, but none is available. There are with community élites and religious people hospitals in Cox’s Bazar, but it costs 50 taka to go to discuss the causes of disability. We could to the hospital in a rickshaw, the community peer educate teachers in madrasas and schools to researchers said. teach about the reality of disability. The NGO peer researchers added that older people It would be important to involve the media, get bad treatment or are harassed in the health to get them to show us positively. District services. Older people then feel depressed and do and sub-district level officers could distribute not want to go back. Lots of older people do not information about this and in meetings raise want to be a burden on society, they said. Some awareness. There should be posters and feel that they are going to die soon anyway. There banners in busy places and in education is a fear of annoying sons or daughters if they raise centres with positive messages, and we should their health problems, and that if they do they may use the TV to promote positive attitudes. be insulted. We need to demonstrate that people with The peer researchers said that older people need disabilities can work. We need to put evidence care more than cure. Provision is needed for home in front of people’s eyes. Technology is now care, but health professionals are not trained for widespread and we can use it to disseminate this. Gerontology is being introduced into the health messages. People are more likely to believe care curriculum but only very slowly. something if it comes through an electronic device rather than a person. Improve maternal health We need to ensure treatment for pregnant mothers to reduce the number of children born with disabilities. We need to ensure the proper medicine and care for pregnant mothers. 5.8 Access to services 5.8.1 Specific services for older people The health system focuses on maternal health, said the peer researchers. This means that older people do not get their needs meet. Reproductive health ©Manna Rahman/HelpAge International We can also make change 45

46 5.8.3 Lack of services for people with mental illnesses There are no services for persons with mental illnesses in rural areas. People think that mental illness is incurable and they go to traditional healers: “They go to the traditional healer who cannot treat the issues.” The Bangladesh NGO peer researchers heard about a girl whose father died and who gave birth to a child before becoming mentally ill: “The [mentally ill] girl’s family took her to a traditional healer who said that her vein was broken and started a treatment which wasn’t a proper treatment. After three or four years the family realised this wasn’t right and they took her to the district hospital. After the treatment she started to improve. But the family didn’t continue treatment. It wasn’t ©Manna Rahman/HelpAge International possible for them to continue going to the district level so they gave up. This 5.8.2 Health services happens in rural areas.” There are two kinds of health system, said the NGO peer researchers’ group NGO peer researches: private and governmental. discussion The private initiatives are expensive but offer better health care than government services. Doctors 5.8.4 Insufficient services for people with do not stay in most government hospitals or in intellectual impairments rural areas as they prefer to work in private clinics There are some private special schools for autistic and in Dhaka. Government hospital doctors go children some of which are government schools, to government hospitals in the morning for two to but they are limited, said the NGO peer researchers. three hours, then they go to their private clinics in Some persons with intellectual impairments receive the afternoon and evening. a disability allowance, but they do not receive People do not rely on government services, the treatment, they said. peer researchers said. However, private health complexes are a long way from villages and “Poor people don’t know about widespread corruption exists in them. For example, services for autistic children. the complexes receive medicines to distribute free Awareness days happen [for autism] but to patients, but instead they are sold to pharmacies. there are no services. The daughter of our Also, regardless of a patient’s health problems, they Prime Minister promotes autism, but other will be given tests at a diagnostics centre which organisations aren’t working on pays commission for referrals. People get frustrated these issues. It’s not reaching the as they see their money going to these people, they community level.” explained. NGO peer researchers’ group discussion In addition, they said, doctors do not want to live in rural areas so rural people depend on traditional healers and on pharmacists. We can also make change 46

47 and wheelchairs are expensive, with the spare 5.8.5 Infrastructure parts unavailable, said the peer researchers. The community and NGO peer researchers agreed The government cannot provide enough special there is a lack of specially-adapted infrastructure equipment, which often has to be imported. and facilities in hospitals, schools, transport and The peer researchers also highlighted difficulties recreational activities etc. It is difficult to get to in accessing toilet facilities. A man with a physical these facilities, and in particular hospitals are not impairment told them: accessible, because of no ramps. Education institutions are the same, they said. There “I can’t even get up from bed is not enough special equipment for persons with [due to paralysis] and I have disabilities. School children who have a disability are to urinate and pass faeces in bed. I not allowed to school events and sports because eat twice a day, but I can’t eat a third the teachers do not let them. They assume they time. There’s no money.” will not be able to play or join in and events are not Amit, aged 30, Cox’s Bazar adapted for persons with disabilities. However, there is one organisation – the Society for the Welfare Another man with a physical impairment said: of the Intellectually Disabled, that provides some assessment, relief services and training. “I go to the toilet by crawling ... I wish I could have a latrine. 5.8.6 What should be done? I feel ashamed because I have to go Make public services fully accessible to the bathroom in the open.” There should be a separate counter in Khan, aged 22, Cox’s Bazar hospitals for people with disabilities. Transport Public transport is a problem for persons with should be accessible. All public offices should disabilities and older people, the community peer be accessible. We need appropriate legal researchers stressed. In Cox’s Bazar, they explained, support for people with disabilities and older there are stairs to climb to get on a bus. Also, buses people. Local government officials must do not stop completely, making it dangerous to get respect people with disabilities and they need on and off. There are nine seats for women, children to arrange adapted services or accessible and persons with disabilities on every bus, but older facilities for them. people do not have allocated seats. Make sporting and cultural events Flyover bridges, which are inaccessible to persons accessible unable to use stairs, make crossing roads dangerous We should arrange cultural events for people for persons with disabilities and older people. with disabilities and older people. There are 10 blind cricket clubs at the district level, 5.9.2 Mobility and people who are blind or but they are not allowed to play in stadiums. have low vision They should be allowed to. Marriage events A man with a visual impairment told a community in community centres need to become peer researcher: accessible, so everyone can attend. “I face mobility problems. I can’t work independently ... 5.9 Mobility I can’t move alone, I can only move 5.9.1 Mobility and physical disabilities with other people’s help.” Abir, aged 40, Cox’s Bazar Persons with disabilities have mobility problems We can also make change 47

48 An older man with a visual impairment told another: 5.10 Marriage 5.10.1 Marriage and women with “I can’t move on the road and disabilities market. I can’t cross the Women are not road. I don’t understand the location valued as much as Women are and movement of cars.” men in Bangladesh not valued as Dewan, aged 66, Bhashantek society, and are much as men The community peer researchers said that some marginalised as people who are blind or have low vision use in Bangladesh a result, the peer white canes or have sighted guides because they researchers agreed. society, are involved in self-help groups. Those outside Bangladesh is a and are of these groups are less likely to use canes or male-dominated marginalised guides because they can lead to bullying and society and women’s embaressment. So in the Cox’s Bazar self-help opinions are ignored, as a result. group, they want floor-level sticks, which are so they have low more expensive. The quality of government-issued confidence. Women are seen as a burden. While white canes is often bad and they often break, sons can provide financial support, daughters leave they added. their family when they get married. Also, dowries must be paid for daughters, and if a girl has a 5.9.3 Mobility and people with hearing and disability the dowry is higher than if she has not. speech impairments The peer researchers explained that because of People with hearing and speech impairments these attitudes women with disabilities are often cannot communicate with drivers or rickshaw hidden away in their homes, their challenges pullers to say where they want to go. Often they unknown to the rest of the community. cannot hear car horns and they can be knocked Both men with or without disabilities are not down by cars, said the peer researchers. interested in marrying women with disabilities, the peer researchers said. It is seen as shameful and they will face criticism. However, men with 5.9.4 What should be done? disabilities do sometimes marry women without Make public transport fully accessible disabilities. There should be greater awareness of how to make buses and roads more accessible. For In general, people believe that women with example, the public needs to be aware that disabilities cannot manage household activities such they should help people with disabilities and as cooking and cleaning. Also, they believe that if a older people. The traffic police and transport mother has a disability, her children will be affected and infrastructure departments should be too – especially the parents of boys. made aware of the needs of people with A woman with a visual impairment told a community disabilities when planning and building. NGOs peer researcher: should advocate for this. Older people with disabilities should have priority when getting on buses and have allocated seats. “I couldn’t marry, I couldn’t enjoy my life and I couldn’t Provide specialist equipment have a family.” Other organisations should provide white Laboni, aged 55, Cox’s Bazar canes, not just groups that work with people who are blind or have low vision. We can also make change 48

49 The NGO peer researchers also found that for I say or looks after me. My husband is even women with severe physical disabilities, especially more irritated. He doesn’t make sure that I’m if they use a wheelchair, it is difficult to get married. properly fed or give me medication. Neither This is also true of women with intellectual does he give me betel nuts to chew on or impairments. mouth fresheners. All the time he abuses me. There is nothing for me to do except maintain It is easier for persons with disabilities in low-income a painful silence ... [My husband does earn], groups to get married than those from rich families but he doesn’t look after me – he’s with his because prestige issues must also be considered younger wife. I carry on with great difficulty. with the latter group. “I’m worried about the future. Once my 5.10.2 Mistreatment of women with daughter is married, who will look after me? disabilities If my son has work I can carry on, but if he doesn’t earn I have to approach my relatives. If a woman with a physical disability does get However, how much can my relatives look married, it is common for her to be taken advantage after me? For me, a day seems like a year. of and for her husband to treat her badly, the With great sorrow I sit alone and peer researchers said. They explained that a man weep. He married me before I was without disabilities mostly marries a woman with disabled.” disabilities to access her family land – and they Tamanna, aged 55, Cox’s Bazar leave her once they have the resource. Sometimes, the parents arrange the marriage of children with The poorest people, beggars in particular, disabilities too quickly and choose an inappropriate sometimes marry women with disabilities to get spouse. A woman with a physical impairment told a shelter, and then they move on and marry again, the community peer researcher: peer researchers said. These people have multiple wives. “[My husband] is my cousin. His The NGO peer researchers said that if a man father and elder brother took me, but marries a woman with disabilities, sometimes the my mother didn’t want to give me away. My family of the man can be reluctant to accept the father died when I was young. They took me couple and, after two or three years, the man will by force, despite my mother’s refusal. Then all divorce his wife. Even when emotions are involved of our lands were divided, so we didn’t have anywhere to live. So we came to Dhaka to make a living. My husband used to pull a rickshaw, but one day he went to work and went missing.” Nishat, aged 55, Bhashantek It is common for husbands to leave if their wife becomes physically disabled. A woman with a physical disability gave her story: “The members of my family don’t feel that I’ve any worth at all. They don’t listen to me and if I say anything at all they’re extremely abusive. Except for my daughter, nobody gives any importance at all to what ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD We can also make change 49

50 at first, a man can end up losing his patience and affection for his wife when he has to mix with promote the fact that women with disabilities are society. Sometimes a wife goes back to her parents capable and are human too. Some educated because of an intolerable level of torment, the peer girls with disabilities cannot get married, so the researchers added. government should encourage non-disabled men to marry women with disabilities. Occasionally there were more positive stories. The NGO peer researchers were told the story of one boy educated to secondary school level (year 5.11 Land 10 or 11): 5.11.1 Slum living “There was a conversation between In Bhashantek, this boy’s family and the family of nobody has their In Bhashantek, a girl with disabilities, but the parents of the own land; people nobody has boy were abusive towards the girl. Somehow live on government their own land; this boy was very educated and he was aware land, the community of disability issues. On the spot he declared people live on peer researchers that he would marry this girl. He brought the explained. This may government bride home on his shoulders and married her be the result of land. and they had a happy family and two children people losing their without any kind of disabilities. He land in their village told his parents, ‘See – nothing because of flood erosion. In the slum, they added, happened to me.’ ” people live precarious existences, hand to mouth, NGO story and have no money to purchase land or a home. An older woman told a community peer researcher: 5.10.3 What should be done? “People are taking away the Educate and train women with disabilities government area. Now I’m Women with disabilities should be educated worried about where I’ll live in the and given vocational skills and training to near future.” empower them. They can be skilled and it Sadia, aged about 80, Bhashantek will help them to bargain with their husband’s family, as well as help them get a job. Job An older man with a visual impairment said: opportunities should be created in the government sector. If we can be financially “I’m living like a nest-less bird. independent, we will be valued by the I have debt. I have to survive community and we are more likely to marry. by begging. I live on government land.” Promote positive images of women with Dewan, aged 66, Bhashantek disabilities The Bhashantek community peer researchers The problem is that all men (with and without explained that there had been a government project disabilities) do not want to marry women with for the rehabilitation of Bhashantek slum, but most disabilities, but women need to get married people could not afford the security deposit to move because they are dependent on their husbands. into the apartments that were built. The apartments Even we, the male peer researchers ourselves, were given to government workers to lease and others do not want to marry a woman with disabilities. were buying them. An older man explained in his story: Through the media, we need to We can also make change 50

51 “They didn’t even send my name [to 5.11.2 Land inheritance be rehabilitated from the slum]... Persons with disabilities generally do not inherit land What can I do if my name isn’t included? and homes, instead it go to their siblings, said the The chairman and members took everything. peer researchers. Families do not know the law. If they don’t give, what can I do? I can’t force As they believe a person with a disability cannot them and say, ‘include me’... The forms are work or get married, they question why they should given to those who have money, inherit land. 60,000-70,000 taka, I have heard. The peer researchers explained that people with But we weren’t informed.” intellectual impairments are not allowed to own Mamud, aged 65, Bhashantek land legally, and women cannot inherit land at all. The community peer researchers said that people Sons inherit land, so a widow does not inherit. thought that rehabilitation meant the apartments Sometimes, widows are given a small percentage, would be free or they would only pay out once, but but poor families tend not to give their mothers people have to pay rent. They have to pay 250,000 anything. Widows have to live with their sons. If a taka over 10 years. “It is not possible for poor woman does not get married, she has to depend persons with disabilities and older people to afford on her brothers. this.” Another older man told them: 5.11.3 What should be done? “It’s very hard to lead life without Provide government land money. We face many troubles ... Powerful people reserve government lands Sometimes we starve. The government is going and property, so we need to make land more to break up this slum area, then where will we freely available. NGOs and the government stay?... We don’t get [rehabilitated land] for should provide subsidised land for people with free. At first we’d need to pay 10,000 taka and disabilities and older people, and we could then 45,000 taka later. After that, 300,000 taka pay in instalments. There was a rehabilitation needs to be paid a month ... The outsiders took project for another slum and the instalments 400 [plots of land] ... They have money and [for apartments] were much cheaper and they they took it. The people in the slum only got 218 included vegetable gardens. The NGOs need plots ... Who’s there to hear our words? The to lobby the government to provide land for members and the chairmen tell us to older people and people with disabilities. pay money otherwise they won’t put our names forward.” Rehabilitate beggars and provide Rana, aged 65, Bhashantek sheltered care There are rehabilitation programmes for An older woman in Bhashantek said: beggars, but they only give them 300 or 400 taka before sending them home. The “Now, where Allah takes me ... government should provide enough resources I can’t pay 10,000 taka to fill the for rehabilitation programmes. They should also form [to be rehabilitated]. I wasn’t able to provide sheltered care homes for older people. do that. Also if I get this I have to pay more money to move in. I can’t manage [to buy] food for eating.” Tasin, aged 70, Bhashantek We can also make change 51

52 They do not share experiences easily and many 5.12 Rape and sexual abuse cannot communicate. 5.12.1 Women, disability and vulnerability • Girls with disabilities may live alone and it is not Many stories of the rape and sexual harassment of possible to ensure that they are accompanied women with disabilities were told to the NGO peer full time. researchers. For example: • Chocolates and ice cream are often used to draw in those with intellectual impairments. “[People] said that she was the The NGO peer researchers were told the story of a result of her parents’ sins. People woman with an intellectual impairment who became called her deaf and mute and they neglected pregnant and had a child every year, but she could her. She cried a lot at times. Because she not say who the man was who made her pregnant. was disabled and poor, she couldn’t study. Her mother worked in others’ houses and her They were also told the story of a girl with hearing brothers worked in others’ fields, but it was and speech impairments who would be left alone difficult to get food twice a day. As she was when her mother went to work. Her uncle often growing up her mother and brothers worried. used to come to the house and one day he raped Generally, in our country, girls are neglected. her. When the mother came back from work that Moreover, if they are disabled there is no end day the girl was crying but she could not say to their suffering. why. The mother took the girl to hospital where doctors understood what had happened. The girl At the age of 16 this girl went to a jute field later made her mother understand that the person to fetch wood. There, the son of a powerful who raped her was the uncle. However, powerful chairman of the village raped her. She went people threatened the girl, that if she complained back to her home, bloodied and in a lot of further the uncle would divorce her aunt and the pain, and after she reached home she aunt would then become helpless. Rape happens collapsed. Her brother’s wife asked her what within houses and is often committed by the family had happened and the girl told her using sign members of victims, the peer researchers said. language. Later, she died. The girl’s elder Technology is providing new opportunities for brother wanted to file a case against the abuse, they added. Most mobile phones have chairman’s son, but the chairman’s people cameras and when people commit sex crimes they threatened him. He did file the case, but the take pictures and threaten the victim, saying that police didn’t take it on because the chairman if the victim says anything about the crime they was powerful. The police said that [the girl’s will publish the pictures on the internet. The NGO death] was suicide so they couldn’t take on peer researchers said that everybody has a mobile the case. They threatened the girl’s elder phone and technologies are misleading the younger brother and made him sign that it was generation: “Pornography has become very easy suicide... Still, today, there has been to access. You easily go to the cyber café. You can no justice.” browse and see all of this pornography and incite Syumon Hossain Bijoy, NGO story these crimes.” 5.12.2 Particular vulnerabilities The law is not strong enough, the NGO peer Persons with visual, speech or intellectual researchers agreed. Providing evidence of rape is impairments, as well as children, are the most sometimes difficult, and in most cases, the abusers vulnerable to rape and sexual harassment, said the are powerful and influential. Samira Khatun, an peer researchers. It is easy to exploit and abuse NGO peer researcher, said that several women with hearing impairments tried to gain justice in various these adults and children because: We can also make change 52

53 without saying anything that day. She didn’t want to work for two days. When her mum forced her to go to work, she told her in sign language that the factory manager had raped her. However, the [factory] owner took the side of the manager and threatened her.” Mahua Akhtar Dipa, NGO story As a result of the incident in this story, The whole the whole family was family was forced to move – a forced to move common outcome – a common after rape. The NGO peer researchers outcome after were also told about rape. a girl with disabilities who was brutally raped by a 60-year-old man. The man was caught by local people and put in jail. The girl was sent to a hospital where she was examined before being sent back to her quiet village. At first, village people stood by the girl, but after a few days the situation ©Shafiqul Alam Kiron/Sightsavers changed as the rapist was a local influential and rape cases, but court lawyers did not understand powerful person. The medical report was altered in sign language. However if a girl tries to explain who exchange for money. After the police report came a perpetrator was, it is not acceptable in court. down on the side of the rapist, the man came out Even medical reports are difficult to use because of jail and pressured the victim’s family into leaving these need to be completed within six hours [of the area. In this case, the peer researchers said, the the offence to be used in court]. Samira said the only thing the NGO that was involved in the case law for rape victims is inadequate. Furthermore, in could do was to provide the girl with counselling court lawyers are harsh towards women who have “so she didn’t become mentally devastated”. been raped: “The words that they use are a kind of another rape. The girls feel so embarrassed that Sometimes, locally-arranged settlements see they don’t want to go there.” abusers giving money to the families of victims. The victims rarely benefit, however. The following 5.12.3 Power, rape and sexual abuse story was told to an NGO peer researcher: Rapes are often committed by people with power, said the NGO peer researchers. One story they “She was a speech and hearing were told was as follows: impaired girl who got raped by one of her cousins. After that she became pregnant. “[A woman] took a job in a paint The boy denied this incident. When the girl’s washing factory. After doing the job family came to know about it they pressurised for a few days the factory manager raped her. the boy into marriage with the girl. The She was very scared after the rape. That’s why cousin’s brother resolved the matter with his she didn’t inform her family and went to bed family and local respectable people by giving We can also make change 53

54 some money to the girl’s father. The girl’s The response from Bhashantek father took the money because he It was agreed that women with disabilities are was greedy and also a drug addict. more vulnerable to sexual abuse and rape. One But still the girl was pregnant.” community peer researcher explained that girls Shofiqul Islam, NGO story who work as domestic helpers Sometimes victims are married to abusers, whether Every day (not necessarily girls the girl wants it or not. in the with disabilities) are also vulnerable to newspapers “We say we don’t know who’s doing abuse. It happens there are this. But it’s not true. We know. It’s a often, he said, but it reports of kind of social stigma. If you know that one of is not known about my children is raped, there’s a natural rape. because people are tendency to hide that. It’s shameful ashamed to speak in this society, so we tend to hide it.” about it. Every day in the newspapers there are Nasima Khatun, NGO peer researcher reports of rape. These women can report the rapes, but because many women with speech and hearing 5.12.4 Views of the community peer impairments, or with intellectual impairments, researchers cannot share or explain their experiences, they do not get reported. A second peer researcher said The community peer researchers did not collect any there is a social division between rich and poor. It stories about rape or sexual harassment. As the is harder to get richer people to admit that abuse NGO peer researchers heard so many such tales, happens to their daughters because of the social there was a workshop discussion about why this stigma involved. might have been and whether or not the community peer researchers thought this was an important It was explained that abuse is widespread but not issue. spoken about. Women do not only suffer from rape and sexual abuse. They also suffer from physical abuse. One woman in a wheelchair [apparently] committed suicide by hanging herself. Nobody believed it. Murder was suspected but no one was ever prosecuted. In a district close to Dhaka, a newspaper reported that a group of people murdered a woman with an intellectual impairment because they thought she was a kidnapper so she was beaten to death. The response from Cox’s Bazar The community peer researchers said abuse happens in poor families: “It is common. It gets solved through the village justice committee. We make the man pay compensation or we make the man marry the girl.” One peer researcher believed that there are 34 disability self-help groups in the Cox’s Bazar area and there were examples of abuse within these, so he thought it is very common: ©Zul Mukhida/Sightsavers We can also make change 54

55 “A girl with a physical impairment was in a self-help group and she worked in a doctor’s surgery. She had a relationship with her colleague and she got married, but the family of the husband didn’t accept the marriage and when she became pregnant the in-laws wanted her to abort the pregnancy. She tried to set fire to herself and threw herself into the river. Later, she died. We think it’s very common – not just for disabled girls, but for others too.” 5.12.5 What should be done? Mobilise against rape Village justice committees should educate families. They should convey messages to all families in the community. There should be public punishment for the perpetrators to ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD discourage people, to show that they cannot escape justice. Most people are religious, “When the girls try to report so we should stress that religious values go rape, corrupt police and lawyers against rape. abuse and rape that girl again. Three girls Strengthen the justice system with intellectual impairments were raped We also need a stronger legal system. by a business man, a police man and an At the moment, you have to prosecute anonymous man. They got pregnant and the within a year and influential people make newspaper published this, but they cases drag on so time runs out to take action. never got justice. How can they get We need organisations to protect witnesses justice when one was a policeman?” and victims. There should be a committee in Yet another said that women with disabilities are each community on violence against women. more vulnerable: This should be responsible for preventing and reporting these crimes (at the union or sub-district level). The mediation courts at “One girl with hearing and speech community level have limitations. They cannot impairments was raped by her cousin deal with all disputes. They can only dissolve and became pregnant. The boy’s family told the local land disputes and small crimes like theft. girl not to tell her family and they made her abort Rape cases cannot be taken to them. the child. But the family found out because the We need to educate local government officials. neighbour spoke to her in sign language and The criminal courts will ask them about rapes, then they knew. The families solved the so they need to understand the crime better. issue between them selves. They didn’t involve the law.” It was agreed that women with disabilities are more likely to be victims: We can also make change 55

56 rear a goat a person needs to buy food and they may not have the money for that. “So how can they make money from these kinds of initiatives?” the NGO peer researchers asked. 5.13.2 Lack of accountability NGOs are not accountable to the communities in which they work, but rather to the donor, said the NGO peer researchers: “When you get funds from your donor you have to be accountable. You have to provide 10 goats and you have a deadline. You just get the goats out to people. Programmes are based on prescribed formats from the donors. Why is our system like that – is it because of the Millennium Development Goals? Why are other important issues not addressed? Is it because they are chasing goals?” NGO peer researchers’ group discussion 5.13.3 Do NGOs adopt the right approach? ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers The NGO peer researchers group discussed how they could make a difference. There were many 5.13 The role of grassroots stories of positive change for individuals that they community-based organisations had heard and many of failure too. But what would 5.13.1 Supporting the wrong kinds of make a difference on a big scale in relation to activities livelihoods, services, attitudes and behaviours? The NGO peer researchers heard several stories about the role of NGOs and community-based “Whatever we do, the most important organisations thing is ensuring regular income of supporting persons any person, because if you don’t have They said with disabilities and income you’re not well respected in older people. They that often your community and family.” said that often NGOs NGOs support Md Al Amin, NGO peer researcher support the wrong the wrong Al Amin said that so far their interventions had been income-generating rights-based – advocacy and lobbying: income- activities and fail to do a proper generating needs assessment “But for an older person with activities and before giving cash. disabilities, they say, ‘What will I fail to do a For example, they do with advocacy work? I don’t have food provide a goat to proper needs in my stomach. What will I do with quotas? anyone who has I need food now.’ They’re not happy with assessment. a disability, but to We can also make change 56

57 these rights-based activities. The government 5.13.4 Community involvement and declared a 10 per cent quota [for access sustainability to government jobs]. Rights are One story the NGO peer researchers heard important, but they’re no use to went as follows: people until they have food.” Md Al Amin, NGO peer researcher “One person, he has three kids, Lipi Rahman shared the same concern: and he pulls rickshaws and is the only one earning. He says, ‘I can’t struggle anymore. I can buy food for my family or “Older people’s associations are I can buy treatment.’ His son says, trying to find new leadership, but ‘Why don’t you die?’ His father got upset it’s always the same faces in the community and he told other older people. They told who are active because these people don’t the Imam. The Imam said [to the son], have to think about their day-to-day income. ‘Take care of your father or leave the People who are really poor don’t come to village.’ Then the son became rights-based activities. scared and he worked more.” We’re opportunist. It’s easy to get solvent NGO peer researcher people on committees. We spend a lot of time on seminar and workshop activities, rather than getting to really vulnerable people within communities. We’re not willing to make that effort. This is our lack of honesty and willingness and commitment. Women don’t have the same flexibility and mobility. An older man doesn’t have to ask his sons or daughter-in-law if he can go to a meeting. An older woman does.” Lipi Rahman, NGO peer researcher The group talked about why NGOs provide support which may not be needed. They said NGOs have an interest in providing In some loans because instances, that is part of such as their business. a natural Hence, they do not refer people to disaster, the government banks government who would provide will write off a loans with less interest. However, debt when an in some instances, NGO will not. such as a natural disaster, the government will write off a debt when an NGO will not. ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD We can also make change 57

58 The NGO peer researchers discussed whether the Another said that the fact remained that an community was more likely to support cases of organisation started a project with a donation, and older people than those of persons with disabilities. after three years it closed. This peer researcher It was agreed that they probably would, but “they added that they knew an intermediate-level blind have not really involved community people with teacher who worked for a project at Dhanmondi. disability issues. They work alone.” Involving the This man’s family was very poor and when he community to ensure initiatives are sustainable is got his job he had hopes for a new start. He got important, however, they agreed: married and had a good life for the next four years. But then the project suddenly ended. The lifestyle this man had become used to, like living in a better “Community people should be place and having a better status, ended too. The involved, because if they’re not in man’s life became very difficult. He was too old to favour of initiatives they won’t be sustainable. get a government job and when he tried to get a job There were different people with disabilities in at other NGOs they turned him down, saying they the market. Other people in the market didn’t could not give him half the salary he used to earn. allow them to sit and sell. But the [community The peer researcher said that in the end the man people] said, ‘Isn’t it better that he is earning started begging in Narayanganj. rather than begging?’ Then the [people in the market] allowed those Lipi Rahman highlighted similar issues for older people to sit for their businesses.” people: NGO peer group discussion One NGO peer researcher said that they helped “The government is not doing a girl with disabilities for two years but when programme-based work. They are support was withdrawn, everything stopped. Why? doing project-based work. By providing cash He explained they have made the community grants, do we think that the sufferings of dependent on NGOs. “We need to make long-term people with disabilities and older people will programmes rather than projects.” be met? It will be because some people will get some support. Others are saying it won’t make a difference if it’s for just one or two years.” Lipi Rahman, NGO peer researcher Some older people’s committees have been set up, said the NGO peer researchers. For example in some areas older people have been successfully included in disaster preparation committees. Generally, these have involved people who are relatively solvent, not the ultra-poor. But when they can include persons with disabilities and older people on committees then maybe government will develop programmes, said the peer researchers. 5.13.5 The priorities of NGOs What NGOs can do is tiny compared to what government can do, said the NGO peer researchers: ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD We can also make change 58

59 “Somehow we need to be involved in local-level committees. They can support these vulnerable people to become able to enter the activities of government. Government structures will be there after we are.” Nasima Khatun, NGO peer researcher In Samira Khatun’s working areas there are 20 PWD organisations. They campaign and advocate whenever a new committee is formed, she said, and inform the committees that they want to be represented. The peer researchers discussed why there were not many women on committees. One reason given was that local government representation is not gender sensitive. In committees you cannot find many women participating because they do not mix outside the home. Even the committees do not trust the leadership qualities of women. Nasima Khatun pointed out that there are no proper toilet facilities and women do not feel comfortable travelling to ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD attend committee meetings. Additionally, in areas like Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong, women usually do not “We can only act as a pressure group. come out in front of men and they use veils. If you There is a huge structure. Why are manage to get some women on committees, they some people not getting support? Why are will not contribute. So they attend, but it is tokenism, some people being excluded? This is they said. Women lack experience and skills in the limitation of NGOs. We can’t go to articulating. every person, but government can.” The peer Peer researchers’ group discussion researchers said Young women They said that one of the most effective roles that that they have participate NGOs can play is to set up pilot projects that many organisations in the can later be taken up by government. The NGO – 60 to 70 – who peer researchers pointed to the example of the forums, but work for women’s Centre for Disability and Development. A satellite empowerment, women with therapeutic service by mobile phone set up was and a separate disabilities and identified by the Ministry of Social Welfare as committee. Young working well and so the Ministry took it on board. older women women participate in the forums, do not come The NGO peer researchers said it is also important but women with to get people involved at all levels of government. forward. disabilities and older One peer researcher asked about the municipality women do not come forward. Md Al Amin said that which had a development committee. She said ADD is engaged in committees in 27 districts, but people needed to be involved at community level there is still a gender representation issue. Al Amin and there needed to be beneficiary-level people on agreed with Nasima: the committee: We can also make change 59

60 themselves select the issue to be discussed. They provide the information and signposting to where people should go if they need things. The chairman works closely with these groups and has made it clear that he will support their ongoing work even when new programmes come along. 5.13.6 Capacity development and zservice delivery The NGO peer researcher group discussed the importance of capacity building. This was agreed to be important because NGOs can only get services to small numbers of people. One peer researcher said that if you are in a good position, then capacity building comes first, “because the need is to put pressure on local government to provide services that can get to the mass of people, and which are not getting to the poorest. If you are really poor then food comes first, and shelter and health services. After that, comes education and skill development.” Another added that there is an aspiration to do more capacity building, “but it is not happening very much. We are not doing it.” ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD 5.13.7 Views of the community peer “When we involve women individually researchers they actively participate, but when The role of grassroots organisations was another they meet with the men’s groups, men area that failed to come up in any of the stories that take the lead and women do not the community peer researchers collected or in their participate. In front of men, women subsequent discussions. Their perspectives on the become less active.” role of NGOs and community-based organisations Md Al Amin, NGO peer researcher was discussed in their workshop. Lipi Rahman talked about the older women involved Hafez Mohammad Jafar Alam, a community peer in 45 groups in three districts. “They are leading researcher from Cox’s Bazar, described what and talking, but they never attend when there are happens when NGOs invite visitors to check their common groups with both women and men,” she programmes: said. There are some examples of positive change, the “They only give us two minutes to NGO peer group researchers said. For example, Md speak and they tell us what to say. Fazlul Karim worked in an area with 107 groups, They give us mobility and orientation training, each of which had 25 to 30 women involved. The but real rehabilitation is not happening. The groups have criteria that older women, persons NGOs provide a ‘per diem’ for government with disabilities and widows, as well as women who officials to come to meetings. Why isn’t it have been abandoned and are living alone, should given directly to people with disabilities? The be represented. At every meeting, the women money goes to high officials. We can also make change 60

61 In this workshop, our thinking capacities have disabilities feel that they do not just need money, been developed, but at the field level there training or advocacy: isn’t any opportunity to enhance our capacities and discuss things like this. The government “Land and employment are priorities. should listen to our needs, at different If we don’t get that, we can’t develop. meetings. They need to let us participate Actually, everything is important – food, and talk and enhance our capacities, and shelter, medical treatment, education. We earn then we can express our needs. There’s not 3,000 or 4,000 taka a month. It’s not enough. enough support. Organisations could be more Sometimes we only eat once or twice a day. sincere and organise more capacity-building Ultimately, the most important thing programmes, involve us in more discussions is permanent shelter for the people and planning, and in the implementation who live in Bhashantek.” process. More money should be Md Kamal Hossain, community peer spent on capacity building and researcher, Bhashantek participation.” A community peer researcher from Cox’s Bazar said: Hafez Mohammad Jafar Alam, Cox’s Bazar, community peer researcher “We got independence 42 years Another community peer researcher, argued that ago, but still normal people didn’t training and the creation of more employment get independence. The political parties got opportunities is needed: independence. Still the general public are suffering. We, poor people with disabilities “NGOs are not doing enough. and older people, don’t get government land. Their scope should be increased. Political parties use this land to build on, but And NGOs should be more sympathetic and poor people can’t use this land. We have a understand persons with disabilities quota for female parliamentarians, better – discuss with us and provide but there’s no quota for people more facilities.” with disabilities, and that’s why no Nazma Akter Rasheda, community progress is made.” peer researcher, Cox’s Bazar Hafez Mohammad Jafar Alam, community peer Md Kamal Hossain said that NGO projects are too researcher, Cox’s Bazar short. They last for one or two years and then the projects end. From ADD, some children received an education and some people were started in small businesses, but this was not sustainable, he explained, adding that NGO projects NGO projects should plan for benefits to continue are too short. when they end. They last for Selina Begum one or two said employment years and then and a place to live is needed. the projects Kamal explained end. that persons with ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD We can also make change 61

62 ©Snigdha Zaman/ADD

63 6. Evaluation of the peer research process The peer researchers were asked to discuss in pairs and answer the following questions about undertaking the research: With a further opportunity, we could do it • What have you most enjoyed? more successfully because we’ve learned at least something. I hope we could do What have you found difficult? • much better if we’re given further What did you learn about how to do • chances.” research? Rozina Akter and Hafez Mohammad Jafar Alam, community peer researchers, Cox’s How else could you use the research? • Bazar The following are some of their responses: “I enjoyed the whole thing. It was a very new kind of thing. We went to people in the community and collected stories, “It was an opportunity to and they could share and swap stories with communicate with people with us. In the beginning there were difficulties in disabilities and older people and share their getting people to understand what we were feelings and learn about their suffering. I asking, but in the end it was OK. We learned enjoyed this. We faced difficulty mainly with how to get real-life information from people, people with mental impairments and people and how to collect sadness or who couldn’t communicate. We learned how sorrows. If there are similar initiatives, to collect stories and how to identify the good we could do the same again.” sides and the bad sides of their Shefali Bala Dey, community peer researcher, lives. We can use this experience in Cox’s Bazar programmes or projects.” Mohammad Fazlul Haque, community peer researcher, Cox’s Bazar “I hadn’t done this kind of research work. It was a new activity. I enjoyed it. The challenges were in how people in the “We collected information from community reacted. ‘Lots of people come but people who were like us. We went nothing changes in our life,’ they said. ‘What to the same kind of people. We collected will you give us.’ I learned how to talk with sorrows and happinesses. As they were the people and bring out inner stories same kind of people they could share their from them. This might provide feelings. There were time limitations. There opportunities to get other research.” were lots of other stories to be shared. If Selina Begum, community peer researcher, we’d more time we’d have got more stories Bhashantek and more information. As we went to rural areas people were mostly illiterate, so it was a struggle to make them understand what we “I was happy that I could be part were asking. We collected 17 stories in each of this whole research. My peers group, but more than 100 were possible. As enjoyed it which is why I enjoyed it. They we had no previous training we learned how showed respect to me, especially when they to go into the community and collect stories. We can also make change 63

64 got the printed copies [of documentation] in sufferings because they didn’t want to highlight their hand. There were time limitations. We the failings of their organisations. So we had to found some peers wanted to share positive probe again and again and again. We learned stories only. I learned that in doing research how to identify the main issues through telling many factors have to be considered: how a story and how to analyse those issues. We to go to people, and that before taking any had different activities like training. We can kind of decision you need to do research. use this skill in making priorities in training. It I also learned about participatory will be easier for us to write reports of projects research work which I will try to because we’ve writing skills [now] apply in my organisation.” and this will help us write project Most Samira Khatun, NGO peer proposals for donors.” researcher Md Al Amin and A S M Ashiqur Rahman, NGO peer researchers “In previous research, we were given questions and collected “We got to know the way things answers. These were not participatory research really look by going physically processes. We very much enjoyed being to the slums. We learned about different involved in the whole process. The questions organisations’ activities. We learned more were so good. We learned how to probe. This about the issues. Time was limited. Getting enhanced our speaking capacity. When we time commitment from peers was difficult. went to speak to older people’s leaders it was Peers didn’t want to talk negatively about difficult to bring them out of themselves to talk their organisations. Voice recorders were about personal things. Some appeared to take not easy to use for all of the participants. We questions and said ‘I will give back to you’. Two learned how to analyse stories, how to collect didn’t want to tell us stories. It was difficult to stories from people, how to use the time, how balance the project we work on and this work, to document and record the stories, how to as the project was at an end. Project staff speak to people on specific issues and how to thought that the stories meant that there would convince people [to engage in the research]. be a new project. We learned how to probe, Our experience will help us in advocating the how to do analysis, how to identify issues. rights of people with disabilities and older We’re now more used to writing narratives. It’s people. Future development work given us a new angle in thinking about the lives can use this and it will help us in of older people. We’ve been working for eight planning.” years, and hadn’t thought in this way Nasima Khatun and Md Elias Talukder, NGO before. This research has given us peer researchers new insights into why things fail.” Lipi Rahman and Mohammad Fazlul Haque, “We enjoyed the whole process a NGO peer researchers lot. We built new relationships with different people. We collected information “We had no previous experience of from different people. It was a new research. In this research we used methodology of collecting information through voice recorders to ensure authenticity. We a story. We learned about the real lives of wrote down exactly what people said. Many people with disabilities and older people. We of our peers were hesitant to share their learned about unknown issues. We enjoyed We can also make change 64

65 the way we spoke with people and developed solutions to the community. skills. We enjoyed making new relationships Previously it was an activity of the with peers. We also enjoyed using the media or NGOs.” voice recorders. Through this research we Mohammad Akkas Molla, community peer developed new relationships with different researcher, Bhashantek organisations. Probing was difficult though, Other comments included: and making questions from the story. To prepare the peer for the story with background “I felt very close and very intimate work was difficult. Sometimes the recorder to people with disabilities and they didn’t work properly which was embarrassing. could bring their sufferings [to us]. This is not We didn’t get enough practice. Some peers the end. This will be shared in the post-MDG said that they needed their supervisor’s discussions. If this research wasn’t done, permission [before speaking to us]. This we couldn’t have gone to the people with lengthened the process. We learned how to disabilities and older people to collect stories.” use voice recorders. We provided guidelines on how to collect stories. It helped us a lot “The difficulties in the action research and we learned how to select peers. We can were that we had to organise times, select use this experience in future respondents, plan and decide to go to people’s planning and especially in doing homes. If he or she was not there, there was needs assessment. the challenge of having to identify [other] A H M Kamruzzaman and Abdul respondents immediately.” Matin, community peer researchers, “The honorarium was also good.” Bhashantek “It was difficult to write down the dialects because we were instructed to write down “This is the very first time in my exactly what people said, especially older life I’ve [undertaken] any kind of people. They were very old. Whatever was research. I enjoyed it very much. I learned asked they answered the same about their about the lifestyle of people with disabilities suffering. People with disabilities, especially and older people. Collecting information from children with disabilities and those with people with disabilities was difficult because learning disabilities, their stories were a people didn’t understand what we challenge and difficult to collect. We tried were trying to ask them. We learned our best to implement what we learned in the that we needed to ask permission.” workshop. We planned before implementing Md Kamal Hossain, community peer and before going to speak to people. We researcher, Bhashantek planned when, where and what we would ask and who would say what. We learned all these things.” “I enjoyed going to different “We can use our skills and do similar kinds of people’s houses to collect stories. activity if Sightsavers, HelpAge and ADD offer I liked the whole process. I found it most similar kinds of opportunities. There’s no end difficult writing down the stories because of learning. We need to practice more. We’d people had different dialects. I learned like more training opportunities. We’ll that if someone didn’t want to respond, try our best to conduct research in how I could convince them. If they can the future.” identify their own issues, they can bring We can also make change 65

66 ©Tim McDonnell/Sightsavers

67 7. Conclusion This report draws on the real-life stories of persons with disabilities and older people in Bangladesh, as told to and gathered by two groups of peer researchers in a unique participatory peer research project. The report pulls together these stories and thus provides valuable testament of the experiences of persons with disabilities and older people in one country at one moment in time, giving vivid illustration of the considerable equality and poverty challenges they face. From these stories the peer researchers identified livelihood can completely transform the way in 13 issues that were critical to “people like them”, which a person with disabilities or an older person with significant overlap in the issues identified by is perceived. It enables a person with disabilities or the community peer researchers and the NGO peer older person to find a place in her or his household researchers. All of the issues identified significantly and community. Work especially, the stories affect the lives of persons with disabilities and older showed, is a route to community acceptance and, people, making it difficult to prioritise them in any thereby, increased confidence and self-esteem. meaningful way. As both the community and NGO The stories showed, that work especially is a route peer researchers also felt that all of the issues to community acceptance and thereby increased were inter-related (for example, a lack of livelihood confidence and self-esteem impacting on the ability to access health care and A third key area affecting the lives of persons with contributing to discrimination experienced) such a disabilities and older people is poor access to task of prioritising them may, in any case, not be services . The stories showed that this is a result possible. Nevertheless, it is possible to highlight a of many factors, chief among which is inaccessible few key areas. infrastructure. However, discrimination, corruption, and of course, poverty also play their parts in 7.1 Key areas ensuring that children and adults with disabilities Nearly all the stories told to the peer researchers and older people are very often excluded from insecure livelihoods . stressed the critical issue of the education, health, and transport systems. In Persons with disabilities and older people can face addition, the disability allowances, pensions and insurmountable barriers to finding work, with poor other stipends to which persons with disabilities education and discrimination being among the and older people are entitled are often not received factors hindering their opportunities. This results in because their system of distribution is corrupt or persons with disabilities and older people having inefficient or out-of-date. Sometimes people are not little access to income and facing the challenges even aware of their entitlements. of poverty and dependence that this brings. A fourth area that came across strongly in the Government benefits, when they are received, do stories gathered is the everyday abuse and indignity not come close to providing a livelihood. Persons that persons with disabilities and older people in with disabilities and older people often have little Bangladesh endure. They add up to a lifetime of option but to beg if their families or communities for those affected. exclusion and discrimination are unwilling to support them – which the stories Examples shared with the peer researchers ranged demonstrated, they often are. from name-calling to exploitation in monetary independent livelihoods The issue of is also transactions to being literally pushed around on of great importance, because as so many of the the street. Furthermore, the stories gathered in stories in the research highlighted, an independent the research showed, that the family, is not always We can also make change 67

68 a place of safety, with abuse being rife within disabilities and older people. We learned about households. Persons with disabilities and older unknown issues. We enjoyed the way we spoke people are often viewed by family members as a with people and developed skills. We enjoyed burden, and are often abandoned. making new relationships with peers.” A reluctance of NGO workers to express potentially negative Abuse takes on a particularly ugly face in the views about their organisations was a particular rape and sexual harassment to which, form of challenge faced by the NGO peer researchers when the stories showed, women and children with collecting stories from their peers. disabilities are particularly vulnerable. The research revealed story after story of such sexual abuse and A final challenge faced was the sheer ambition made clear that this is a deep problem for girls and of the project. Just over half of the stories that women with disabilities across the country. It adds were collected were analysed in the workshop. extreme hardship to the lives of girls and women Although it was ensured that the stories analysed who already face gender discrimination, poverty and were balanced in terms of gender, geographical exclusion. representation and other relevant factors, and additional measures were taken to ensure the peer A final key area identified is the issue of access researchers felt no issue was left out, with more to land and inheritance, where people living time and budget all the stories gathered would have within insecure existences, in Bhashantek slum in been analysed. particular, are singled out. 7.3 Empowerment through research 7.2 Challenges The evaluation comments show clearly how much The participatory peer research process employed the peer researchers enjoyed the participatory in the project enabled the issues that are most research process. They also present how the peer critical to persons with disabilities and older people researchers learned new skills and developed in Bangladesh to be revealed. The stories gathered aptitudes and how they hope to apply these in the detail how and why discriminatory dynamics are future. generated and sustained, and how they impact on people. There were also challenges in the Importantly, the research modelled the process methodology. One such challenge was people’s of empowerment itself. One peer researcher said: level of awareness of intellectual impairments and “Sightsavers, Help Age, and ADD could have done mental illness. Many people who gave stories did this with graduates and educated people, but we not know the nature of their intellectual impairment were selected and I enjoyed that. If it was done by or mental illness as they had never had a diagnosis. educated people it might have been perfect or less Their family members could not help establishing perfect, but it wouldn’t have been the same as we these facts either. This meant it was difficult to did it. Another pointed out: “It was small, but it was ascertain how many people had conditions they a big thing for us.” From the moment this group of were born with and how many were mentally ill persons with disabilities and older people – from the or had suffered a brain injury. In each case in the urban slums of Dhaka and the rural villages of Cox’s research we used the definition given by the person Bazaar – came back from gathering stories and themselves or their family. exclaimed “we are researchers now”, the potential for real transformation was realised. All the peer researchers faced challenges in their story collecting – from capturing unfamiliar dialects to keeping storytellers on track, but the evaluation comments reveal that these were far from insurmountable. As one peer researcher said: “We learned about the real lives of people with We can also make change 68

69 Annex 1: The guidelines for community and NGO peer researchers Guidelines for community Explain that their real name will not be used in the research peer researchers If you speak with someone under 18, please get This is a guide for the community peer informed consent from their parent or legal guardian. researchers to assist them in collecting stories in their communities. Basic information needed • Date of discussion Name • Objectives of the research • Age You are part of a participatory research • Location • project which aims to: 1) understand the Job • experiences of persons with disabilities and • Do they consider themselves to have a disability? older people in Bangladesh, and 2) learn If so, what? about undertaking participatory research with • Mobile phone number persons with disabilities and older people. The research will be used by Sightsavers, • Story prompts HelpAge and ADD in Bangladesh and 1. Tell me a story about a challenge you have faced internationally as part of their advocacy to as a person with disabilities or an older person. highlight the reality of the lives of persons 2. Tell me a story about something that happened to with disabilities and older people. you because you are a person with disabilities or an We hope that you will be able to use your • older person. learning to support your local self-help NB: If they talk about the incident that caused their activities. disability, remind them they need to tell you about something that has happened because of their Your role as community peer researchers disability. We are asking you to work as a team of community Follow-up questions peer researchers and collect stories from at least 36 You can ask them follow-up questions to get more people in your community between now and mid- information, e.g. who else was there, when did January. that happen, what happened next, where did that Half of these people need to be men and half happen? women, and they need to include older people, You can also ask them why they told you this story. people with physical disabilities, people who are blind Is it typical or unusual? Does it happen often or to or have low vision, people who are hearing impaired, other people? people with learning difficulties and people with mental health issues. Analysing the stories After someone has told you a story, think about who Ethics and informed consent else you could speak to. Are there other people in the Introduce yourself and explain why you are collecting story who could tell you more? stories. Ask the person if they are comfortable telling you stories and having those stories recorded (written Documentation and audio-recorded) and for their stories to be used in You will have a volunteer who will audio record the the research. stories and write down everything exactly as the person says it. But you should also keep notes as Either record their consent or ask a third person to well if you can. witness their consent and take a note of the name and contact details of the witness. We can also make change 69

70 Basic information on peers Guidelines for NGO peer researchers Date of discussion • This is a guide for the NGO peer • Name researchers to assist them in collecting Age • stories from their peers. • Location • Job Identifying your peers • Do they consider themselves to have a disability? Identify five to seven peers who: If so, what? Are “front line” workers – they work with older people E-mail address • or persons with disabilities. • Mobile phone number You know well – you have a relationship of trust. Story prompts: 1. Tell me a story about how economic, social or Please make sure you have approximately 50/50 political changes in Bangladesh have impacted/ women and men, a range of ages and they represent influenced a person with disabilities or an older person a mixture of different locations and types of work. you know. Introducing the research 2. Tell me a story about a person with disabilities or an Explain why you are asking your peer to tell you older person who is unable to live the life you think they stories. You are part of a participatory research project would want to. which aims to: 1) understand the experiences of older people and persons with disabilities in Bangladesh, 3. Tell me a story about a person or group of people and 2) learn about undertaking participatory research who you have been unable to support. with older people and persons with disabilities. NB: If they talk in general terms, remind them they The research will be used by Sightsavers, HelpAge need to tell you a story about a real person. and ADD in Bangladesh and internationally as part Follow-up questions of their advocacy to highlight the reality of the lives of Clarifying questions – to make things clear. older people and persons living with disabilities. E.g. Who? What? Where? When? You have chosen to speak with them because they work directly with older people and persons with Probing questions – to get more information. disabilities and you have a long-standing working E.g. What happened next? Who else was involved? Is relationship with them. this typical or unusual? Ethics and informed consent Analysis questions – to understand why. Ask your peer if they are comfortable telling you stories and having those stories recorded (written and E.g. Why did you tell me this story? Why do you think audio-recorded) and for their stories to be used in the this happened? What lessons does this story give research. you? Either audio-record their consent or ask a third person Documentation to witness their consent and take a note of the name Audio record the stories and write down everything and contact details of the witness. exactly as the person says it. Afterwards, listen to the audio recording and type up the stories on to your Explain that their real name will not be used in the computer or laptop. Transfer the audio recording to research – we will use pseudonyms. your computer or laptop. When you type up the stories, save them on a Email a copy of their story to the peer to make sure computer or laptop that is password-protected to they are happy with the write up. keep their stories confidential. Once a month, email your stories (written and audio) to If you speak with someone under 18, please get your focal point in Sightsavers, HelpAge or ADD. informed consent from their parent or legal guardian. Explain that you will send the write-up of their story back to them so they can check they are happy with it. ‘We can also make change’ 70

71 Alzheimer’s Disease International Voices of the ADI works locally, by empowering Alzheimer Marginalised associations to promote and offer care and support for people with dementia and their carers, while Voices of the Marginalised is a project bringing the working globally to focus attention on dementia. It is perspectives of those who live in poverty or who are the international federation of Alzheimer associations highly marginalised, including those with disabilities around the world. and older people, into post-2015 policy making. It www.alz.co.uk is a co-collaboration between Sightsavers, HelpAge International, ADD International and Alzheimer’s Disease Further information International (ADI) in collaboration with the Institute of To find out more about the Voices of the Marginalised Development Studies (IDS). [email protected] project please contact: or consult Sightsavers website: Sightsavers www.sightsavers.org/voices Across the world, people with disabilities are more You can also consult the Voices of the Marginalised likely to experience poverty and social discrimination. www.sightsavers.net/ Post-2015 briefing here: Sightsavers is committed to eliminating avoidable in_depth/advocacy/20045_Voices_of_the_ blindness and supporting people with visual Marginalised_Briefing.pdf impairments as equal members of society. www.sightsavers.org HelpAge International Participate HelpAge International helps older people claim their The Participate initiative is providing high-quality rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and bringing the perspectives of people living in poverty healthy lives. into the post-2015 debate. It aims to bring the www.helpage.org perspectives of those in poverty into decision- making processes; embed participatory research ADD in global policy-making; use research with the poorest as the basis for advocacy with decision- ADD International fights for independence, equality and makers; ensure that marginalised people have a opportunities for people with disabilities living in poverty. central role in holding decision-makers to account We work in Africa and Asia with people with disabilities' in the post-2015 process; and generate knowledge, groups in order to achieve positive and lasting change understanding and relationships for the global public in their lives, by giving them the tools to make change good. It is co-convened by the IDS and Beyond happen and campaign for their rights. 2015, and is funded by the UK Government. www.add.org.uk participate2015.org www.ids.ac.uk

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