By Justin Kayiranga
The Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) reports that there are still violence against the visually impaired persons including the theft of white canes and people disguised as Blind disability.
RUB made the revelation as it launched the weeklong activities which was organised as part of the celebration of the International White Cane Day in Rwanda.
During the Press Conference which happened on 7th November, 2022, RUB highlighted some of the obstacles/challenges that threaten the rights of the blind community in Rwanda.
Among these challenges, RUB says that “until now the blind people in Rwanda are facing many problems, but in particular, the accessibility of white canes as they are costly/expensive and there are no places to buy them in Rwanda so that you can get them at any time.”
The Executive Director of the Rwanda Union of the Blind, Dr. Donatila Kanimba, says that apart from the fact that it is difficult to find these canes, people with visual impairments are also affected by violence against them, including the fact that some of them are robbed of these white canes while they are in public buses or walking in the streets.
“I heard that someone’s white cane was stolen from the bus, and by the time he was about to get out, he looked for the stick and couldn’t find it where it was laid yet the bus was carrying other passengers who are not visually impaired.” She said,
“There is another case of a blind person who, while walking around in the street, was robbed of this cane by someone who took it from him and ran away.” Attested Dr. Kanimba
Apart from this robbery, Dr. Kanimba also asserts that there are some people who claim to be blind in order to benefit from the funds reserved for the blind, something which is regarded as mockery and agonising to visually impaired persons.
“There are some places where we went and found out that the person who is said to be representing the blind is on the list of people with visual impairment and it is not true. This is a serious mistake and a mockery, because it is preventing and taking away the opportunity of disabled people.”
So far RUB doesn’t have precise records or statistics about people who were affected under this violence, however they affirm there is a need for setting laws against all kinds violence and mockery that may occur so as to protect the rights of people with disabilities in particular.
RUB also asks the general public to cooperate with them in this fight to prevent violence against the blind people, especially condemning those who use the white canes in a way that is contrary to its intended purpose.
“A white cane is the only eye for Visually Impaired Persons. So the cane must be respected as a very useful tool to VIPs” says Mugisha Jaques-RUB