Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Disabled, not dead - Pregnant persons with disabilities still facing stigma

Published:Sunday | July 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Gloria Goffe
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Executive director of the Combined Disabilities Association, Gloria Goffe, remains concerned over the level of discrimination meted out to members of the community who chose to start a family.

According to Goffe, while many persons no longer openly reprimand or pity those in the community who become pregnant, there is still some discrimination.

"Initially, it was like a person with a disability becoming pregnant was like some kind of wonder of the world. It seemed like it was a wicked act," Goffe told The Sunday Gleaner.

"When you look at the entire issue, we have made some strides," said the mother of three who is blind.

Goffe said she recalls that it was common in years gone by for persons with a disability to be forcefully sterilised to prevent pregnancy; however, she finds that this is no longer an issue.

"There are still some people who see it as abnormal, who see it as a real challenge for us, and they are not recognising that where the challenge comes in is their own perception," she said.

"They see you pregnant and they are like, 'Lord Jesus, poor thing, who got you pregnant?' and all of that," added Goffe.

She said these comments generally make some persons in the community feel guilty about their decision to have a child.

"We still have some people who, when persons with disability who are pregnant go to the clinics, they either whisper to their co-workers or sometimes point at the person," she said.

Goffe lamented that persons with disabilities are oftentimes not taken into consideration when community meetings and other events are being held, which can educate persons about how to prepare for parenthood.

Sometimes the venues are not practical for some individuals and other times flyers are used to promote the events, which means the blind is disadvantaged.

"What we want is a society that is more inclusive," she said.

"I know quite a number of persons with disability are having their families and are taking care of their families and are making a success of it," said Goffe.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com