Maret 4, 2024

Elections Have Not Been Accessible for People with Disabilities

The low awareness and discrimination against people with disability renders elections in Indonesia have not been fully-accessible. This is not to mention the other many problems surrounding the electoral process in Indonesia. Democracy, as the basis for election, requires sustainable non-discriminatory policies and regulations.

“The media has been covering and writing about people with disability, but they only focus on the uniqueness of the disabled people. The media has not been conveying a moralistic stance regarding the issue,” says the an activist of the Network of Voters Education for the People (JPPR), M. Afiffudin in a public training on Media Coverage for Accessible Election (08/13).

Afif explains, people with disability never want to gain special privilege in elections. It is the duty of the government to ensure the rights to vote for all its citizens.

Since the 2014 Election, election activists and people with disabilities start campaigns to promote public awareness to accessible elections. However, many members of the society have not fully understand the issue properly. According to the data on election evaluation, elections in Indonesia have not been very accessible.

Definitions and Types of Disabilities

The Law No. 8/2016 on People with Disability specifies the definition of disability. In Article 1 Paragraph (1): “people with disability” is any individual who has physical, mental, intellects, and sensory limitations for a long time, which hampers him/her to interact properly with his/her environment.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities also specifies the definition of disabilities. In Article 1, disability is defined as any person who has physical, mental, intellect, and sensory limitation for a long term, that may hampers such person to fully participate in social life.

General Election Network for Disability Access (Agenda) as the organizer of the media training mentions 7 types of disability. Those are: (1) physical disability; (2) sighting impairment; (3) neurological impairment; (4) hearing impairment; (5) chronic medical ailment; (6) intellects disability; (7) psychosocial or schizophrenia.

“The inability to perform an activity properly does not always caused by physical, mental, and intellects disability, but also by discriminatory behavior from the social environment which does not facilitate people with disability to perform their activity normally like other people,” says the Advisor on the Rights of People with Disability for Agenda, Tolhas Damanik.

As an instance, if a person with disability is illiterate, then it is the responsibility of other people around this person to teach him/her how to read. Essentially, disability is caused by social ignorance.

The Rights to Participate in Politics and Accessible Elections

Both the Law No. 8/2016 and the UN Convention states that people with disability has the equal rights to political participation as other people. Political education, to play an active role in the electoral process, and to gain facility in election are some of the rights for all people, including people with disability. It is the duty of the Government to provide proper political education and accessible election for its citizens with disability.

The rights to political participation for people with disability is not only about the right to vote. There are also two rarely-discussed other rights for people with disability: the right to be candidate and the right to be the member of election organizer.

Therefore, to facilitate the participation of people with disability, it is necessary to have accessible elections which are free from discrimination. Accessible elections is important to ensure the rights of people with disability to participate in a free and fair election.

“(Organizing) accessible election is not that hard. All it takes is commitment and awareness to accommodate the rights of all people indiscriminately,” Tolhas says.

Such accessible election can only be realized by fully execute the rights for political participation. If people with disability are allowed to participate in election as candidate (and get elected), then these people will in turn produce laws and regulations that accelerate the realization of accessible election. []