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New law aims to wipe out disability discrimination

New law aims to wipe out disability discrimination

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A new law awaiting approval by the government will protect individuals with disabilities against workplace discrimination

KHOUN LEAKHANA

An NGO representative celebrates International Day for the Deaf at Wat Botum Park last Tuesday.

A  NEW law is being pushed through Parliament to  crack down on what advocacy groups call widespread workplace and social discrimination against the disabled.

The law, which was proposed in 1996, would fine companies and individuals found guilty of discrimination.

"The proposed law stipulates that discrimination against an individual because of their disability will be punished," Ith Sam Heang, minister of Social Affairs, told the Post last Monday.

"If a company fails to employ a handicapped person because of their disability, they will be fined."

The law was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2007 and must now be passed by the National Assembly.

"We are urging the government to accept this bill that will defend the rights of handicapped people," said Ith Sam Heang.

"We believe that handicapped people should be recognised socially, publicly and by the global community."

According to a recently released report by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation, Cambodia has ten vocational training centres.

Nearly 15,000 disabled people have been trained at the centres and about 8,850 have found permanent jobs.

Eang Chandara, 27, who lost his legs in an accident when he was a child, says discrimination is lessening as the public becomes aware of the challenges disabled people face.

"A few years ago it was very difficult to find a job, because all vacancies called for applicants to be in ‘good physical condition'," he said.

We are urging the government to accept this bill that will defend [our] rights.

"Even though our mental abilities may be the same, previously we have been judged only on our physical condition."

"Nowadays, I observe that people are not looking down on us quite so much, and they are more understanding about our feelings and our needs. Handicapped people can now get good jobs because our government is supporting and encouraging us. I hope the government will sign the law to defend our rights soon."

In another recent landmark for disability rights in the Kingdom, the International Day for the Deaf was celebrated at Wat Batom Park on Tuesday.

The celebration provided an opportunity for people within the deaf community to meet and share information.

Program leader Ly Bolika said, "We are very happy that International Deaf Day is being celebrated in this way because it has shown the public that we have the right to join in all social activities. We really hope that this law will be approved."

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