According to World Health Organization, about ten per cent of the total population of Bangladesh is living with disabilities, many due to natural disasters, road accidents, social and family violence, malnutrition, unavailability of vaccinations and congenital malformation. People with disabilities, especially women and girls, are almost invariably among the poorest, most oppressed and excluded members of society. Negative attitudes and environmental and institutional barriers have made them a vulnerable and neglected class. Children and adults are frequently prevented by law and in practice from realizing their social, political and economic rights. Women are particularly subject to becoming victims of family violence. Furthermore, both adults and children are often excluded from opportunities to address their own concerns because their problems are primarily discussed from a medical or welfare perspective.
Most recently, in April 2010, a coalition of disability rights activists and advocates, including Adv. Shapan Chowkidar, a lawyer with visual disabilities, and BLAST, filed two petitions in the public interest challenging legal provisions which bar persons with disabilities from being eligible for employment in judicial or public service. On 8 June 2010 the High Court issued a Rule Nisi directing the Government to show cause why certain provisions the JSC Rules [বাংলাদেশ জুডিসিয়াল সার্ভিসের প্রবেশ পদে নিয়োগ বিষয়ক আদেশ, ২০০৭] should not be declared to be unconstitutional, to the extent that they are inconsistent with the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities to equality, equality of opportunity and the right to a profession.
In connection with other organizations, BLAST has also been actively advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, organizing roundtables and advocacy activities, including with the media, to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and to encourage and facilitate their full participation in civil society. Key law reform initiatives are focused around the implementation of affirmative action provisions in the Bangladesh Constitution and the Disability Welfare Act. BLAST is collaborating closely with a number of disabled people’s organizations, in particular the National Council of Disabled Women (NCDW) and Action for Disability and Development (ADD), in developing such advocacy initiatives.
Public Interest Litigation
- BLAST and another vs. Bangladesh and others [Discriminatory Reservation Case]
Writ Petition No. 1783 of 1998
- Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain and others v Bangladesh and others [BCS Forestry Case]Writ Petition No. 1145/1997
- Mohammad Sarwar Hossain Khan and others v Bangladesh and others [Disability Discrimination Case]
Writ Petition No. 3437/1997
- BLAST, ASK and others vs. Bangladesh and others [Disability Based Discrimination in Employment Case]
Writ Petition No. 2652 of 2008
- Mohammad Sarwar Hossain Khan and others vs Bangladesh and others [Disability Discrimination Case] Writ Petition No. 3437/1997