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Women with disabilities often find it doubly hard to live, move about or travel alone in India, with their disability as well as gender being a barrier. Virali Modi refuses to take it.
Virali Modi, writer and motivational speaker, is on a mission to get Indian Railways to be more inclusive towards people with disabilities. After becoming wheel-chair bound in her teens, Virali never lost hope and sprung back to life to inspire and motivate other people in their lives. But what bothers her is the inadequate measures by the nation to help physically disabled persons to travel around.
Virali loves to travel and finds it very difficult to use Indian trains as a mode of transport. That’s why she has created an online petition urging us all to petition the Railway Minister to implement some of these much-needed changes.
Physically disabled people are forced to rely on others to carry them to the train berths, as boarding trains in India is impossible for them. Reaching the right railway platform too is a big hurdle, and they need to inevitably use the help of railway porters. Virali says that she has herself been groped and manhandled by railway porters in India, on the pretext of helping her and taking advantage of her disability to humiliate her. She also requests that the Railways provide adequate space between the train berths to accommodate wheelchairs and to shift to their seats when needed.
During long travel on trains, Virali is forced to use diapers, as the on-board bathrooms are not accessible for the disabled. While other passengers can easily avail the bathrooms to change their clothes if needed, people with disabilities are unable to do so. Virali has relied on the darkness late at night to change her clothes and diapers until now. Hence she requests the Railways to provide some privacy either through curtains or rooms and to remove space constraints by allotting bigger berths for them.
Though the local trains of Mumbai have fared better in providing a handicapped compartment, passengers and train drivers are often not sensitised enough to care about those with disability. Virali wants this to change, and spread awareness of the difficulties faced by them. Within two minutes of the train halting, they struggle to board their special compartment as other able-bodied persons rush in for the seats without giving them their due preference.
Let’s spare few minutes today to make a change in the lives of our fellow human beings, and sign the petition to take this matter up urgently with the government of India.
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Top image via Virali’s Facebook profile