One of the major challenges facing persons living with visual disabilities is denial of their rights to inheritance of family property.
This was revealed to The New Times by Donatila Mukarukundo, the head of Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB), which is charged with promotion of the welfare of the visually impaired.
“Some people still have the old mindset that a visually impaired person is a disgrace to the family, and deny them a share of their family estate or their husbands’ assets (for women),” she said.
“We have many victims of this situation at our Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind. At the centre, we offer them vocational skills but they come back to us lamenting over lack of capital and deprivation of land by their siblings”.
The centre is an affiliate school of RUB which teaches the visually impaired how to read and write and imparts them with vocational skills like farming.
One of its students, Claver Rurinda from Kansi, in Gisagara District, was twice imprisoned as he tried to demand his family members for a share of his family’s property.
“I was mistreated by my sisters and brother, who never wanted me to have a part of the family’s inheritance. In fact, I was twice thrown into police cells over this issue.”
Gaudioza Nyirasaguye, who is currently undertaking vocational training at the centre said: “My brothers don’t respect me because of my situation and the fact that I am female. I cannot reverse any decisions on our land, or get any share for my own developmental activities, like they do.”
She added that even some leaders discourage them from pressing for their rights because they are rarely attended to, especially at the local level.
“I failed to get any form of support at the local level whenever I reported my plight; sometimes I felt like giving up”.
However, when contacted, Pierre Claver Rwaka, a representative of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) in Parliament, said he had heard of no such complaints.
He promised to follow up on the issue but hastened to call for a sensitisation campaign to enlighten Persons With Disabilities about their rights.
“PWDs also need more sensitisation on how to defend their rights.”
The Minister for Local Government, James Musoni, in a phone interview, underscored that abused persons should make use of their respective local leadership organs.
“They should inform their local committees (for the PWDs) about such cases. We also have officials in charge of social affairs who work at the local levels, including vice mayors. They are always ready to help.”