Attitude towards disability in Nepal
Although Nepal is widely known as a multi-cultural country, about 80% of its total population follow Hinduism. Hindu scriptures have a large influence on Nepalese people's attitude and knowledge towards disability. In Hinduism, disabilities are believed to be linked to "karma", sins that have been committed in past lives. Many recent research studies on disability carried out in Nepal outline the fact that this sort of attitude is more common among uneducated and illiterate Nepalese residing in rural areas of the country. Studies show that a significant number of modern Nepalese believe disability to be a disorder that is genetically related, inherited or caused due to accidents.
In Hinduism, fate, karma and possession of bad spirits are believed to be the causes behind disability. Because of deep inter-connection of disability to religious beliefs, many families do not seek medical treatment or rehabilitation. Some families even attempt to hide the existence of their child's disability. The threat of social stigma has prevented people with disability and their families from accessing health services, education and employment opportunities. It has also served as a barrier for them to not be a part of a social group, especially in the rural areas. Comparably, the situation of disabled women is much worse than men as Nepali society is a patriarchal society, where women are dominated by men. Mostly in rural areas, women are confined within the household and are expected to perform only the household chores. Since disabled women are deprived of educational opportunities and any type of vocational training for employment, they have to completely rely on their husbands or family members to sustain their daily living.
Studies show that people who are literate and have attended school are developing more positive attitudes towards disability than the rest, which clearly marks the positive impact made by education. The majority of respondents in some research studies believed that disabled individuals can go to school, marry, have children and even sit on committees. This modern perspective contradicts the traditional Hindu scriptures, which recognize disability as a penance or revenge from past misdeeds. Seven Women recognizes the importance of raising awareness and education to improve the attitude and knowledge of disability in Nepal.