Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few days, you’ll be aware of the uproar about Cecil the lion – killed by a so-called ‘trophy hunter’. Across the world, people are rightly expressing outrage, that such a beautiful creature was lured from the game park, and killed – all in the name of ‘sport’ and to satisfy some weird blood lust of an American tourist.
Meanwhile, on BBC3 earlier this week, there was a programme called ‘The World’s Worst Place to be Disabled’. UK journalist Sophie Morgan, herself a wheelchair user, visited Ghana to investigate the plight of people with disabilities there – and what she found was shocking.
It started with people begging, and having to live on the streets – literally risking their lives, dodging in and out of traffic, seated on makeshift skateboards (not many had access to wheelchairs) in order to get enough money for food. However, although upsetting, if I’m honest, it’s probably what I was expecting to see, and didn’t come as a great surprise.
However, Sophie then visited a ‘spiritual camp’ where people with disabilities are taken for healing. Here there were people, some with physical disabilities, others with alleged mental health problems, who were chained by the ankle to posts, in appalling conditions. One man she spoke to had been chained up for more than 3 months, with no way of getting help – or indeed, a shower! The ‘healer’ was also shown beating a young woman to force her to drink so called ‘medicine’. When the staff were questioned about why people were restrained, they said “if they’re not chained, they’ll run away” – well, no surprise there!
But even that wasn’t the worst of it – Sophie also discovered that disabled children are being murdered. Families bring their unwanted child to ‘fetish priests’ who apparently carry out some kind of ritual to cleanse the child, and then ‘send them back from where they came from’. What this actually means is poisoning the child and throwing them in the river. And this isn’t a rare occurrence – one particular ritual site was used every Tuesday and Friday!
Now, I understand that the reasons for this abuse is complex – long held spiritual beliefs come into play, and it’s a slow process to change them. The government do have a disability act, but seem to be struggling to enforce it. And in fairness, it’s not all bad news – Sophie also visited a couple of amazing charities, who are doing brilliant work with disabled children, providing medical treatment, prosthetics and skills training.
So Sophie is now petitioning the Ghanian government to stop chaining up people with disabilities, and has also set up a fundraising page to try and raise £9000 to help the charities she visited – to provide a minibus for one, and some wheelchairs and prosthetics. Let’s face it, she’s hardly asking for the earth!
But how much support is she getting? Is there a public outcry about false imprisonment and child murder? Well, so far her petition has 727 signatures and she’s raised nearly £2900 – but that’s a drop in the ocean when you compare it to the 250,000 signatures on the petition to extradite the killer of Cecil the lion! What does that say about our society?
Surely, chaining up people with disabilities and child murder deserves at least the same level of outrage!
You can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer here.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070463@N03/13191299744″>Louis and Sophie</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>