Every Child Has a Voice: Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in society. Estimates suggest that there are at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world who, according to UNICEF, are among the poorest members of the population. They are at particular risk of discrimination, abuse and social exclusion, and the lack of adequate, inclusive policies and legislation leaves them particularly vulnerable to children’s rights violations.

According to the UNCRC, children with any kind of disability have the right to special care and support (Article 23). Improved accessibility to societal functions such as education and health services is at the core of realising fundamental children’s rights for children with disabilities. This also extends to societal support mechanisms such as child helplines, who are doing their bit to ensure children with disabilities have their voices heard in society.

Counselling children injured by conflict

A young child called one of our child helpline members and told them she was struggling with suicidal thoughts. The counsellor explored the situation further and the child mentioned she was at home with her family one night in 2015, when she heard an aircraft noise followed by an explosion. She became unconscious and woke up in hospital, to the news that all of her family had died. She later found out that her left hand would have to be amputated, and she had lost permanent use of both of her legs.

She explained that, after leaving hospital, she went to live with her grandmother. However, she couldn’t go to school for several months. The counsellor talked to her about some of her suicidal thoughts and she expressed how much she hates people looking at her, that her grandmother is poor and doesn’t want to take care of her, and that it would be better for her if she died.

The counsellor explored these thoughts in more detail and told her that there are many other girls like her. The counsellor informed her about an organisation for women with disabilities where she would be able to go and study, and where they could assist with her transportation and education. The counsellor also explained that it was possible to contact the disability fund to organise a new wheelchair for her.

The girl is now back at school. She is much happier, and she hopes to be able to teach other girls with disabilities in the future.