BBC spotlights Iran’s population of people with disabilities

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Opportunities for People with Disabilities Limited in Iran

In a recent extensive feature, the BBC highlighted the plight of people with disabilities in modern-day Iran.

According to the government’s own numbers, about three million of the country’s approximately 75 million have “acute” physical and mental disabilities, though activists contend that the figure is closer to 10 million.

The BBC investigation found that Tehran, the nation’s capital, almost entirely lacked basic accessibility features, such as ramps, lifts, wheelchair-accessible public transportation, or accessible parking spots or toilets.

The unemployment rate for this population is estimated to be as high as 50 percent, which activists say is, in part, the result of employers’ requiring health tests in job applications.

Cultural conceptions play a role in holding back people with disabilities, as well.

“Iranians aren’t used to seeing disabled people on the street and when they see you, they don’t treat them well,” said Marjan, a volunteer with the United Nations Children’s Rights and Emergency Relief Organization (UNICEF), told the BBC. “One of the most upsetting things that could happen is the glances…People looking at you and saying ‘May God restore your health and heal you.

“These comments make you feel like the entire world is crashing down on your head.”

Iran has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2014, Iran allowed a UN Committee to review its treaty compliance.

Among other things, the committee called for “better state support for people with disabilities, more integration, awareness and improved access to education,” according to the BBC. The next review is scheduled for 2018.

The full story, along with accompanying videos, can be accessed here.