Minister urges Africa World Airlines to apologise to disabled woman

Madam Otiko Afiah Djaba, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has urged Africa World Airlines (AWA) to apologise to a disabled woman it prevented from boarding an Accra-Kumasi bound flight due to her disability.

A physically challenged fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Rita Kriba, was on Saturday prevented by a domestic airline, AWA, from boarding, because it had no room for her crutches.

Madam Djaba made the appeal to the Airline on Monday in her address at the opening ceremony of the introduction of a short course on Access to Justice for PWDs at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana (UG), Accra.

The course is being organised by the Faculty of Law, UG, in collaboration with Opened Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

PWDs continue to be excluded from effective participation in justice delivery through two main obstacles expressed in the normative framework – referring to the space laws, both national and international, provide for the recognition of the rights of PWDs – and the institutional framework, which deals with law enforcement and the court systems.

These frameworks translate into access to the law; participation in the justice system as well as legal education and training.

In the light of the above, the course aims at adopting a right-based approach to improve the inclusivity and provide comprehensive access to justice for PWDs, either as direct or indirect participants and whether as victims of crime, suspects, witnesses, plaintiffs, defendants, appellants, remand prisoners and/or prison inmates.

Madam Djaba said: “Today as I speak, an issue was brought to my attention about a lady, who wanted to board a plane and she was denied, because of her disability. The question was where to keep her crutches. Seriously, can’t we keep the crutches in the luggage compartment? Can’t we keep the crutches where the air hostess stands?

“The airline should be compliant for persons with disability (PWDs). So if you cannot comply as an airline, then you should have an alternative means.”

She said in developed countries, there were systems that were automated for PWDs to get on and off planes and vehicles.

“Even the buses in terms of transportation, they have the slopes, the rumps, do we have that with our transport in Ghana? There are places designated for PWDs on public transport in other dispensations.

“And today, Ghana after 61 years of independence, can deny a PWDs from getting on board an aircraft because they had nowhere to keep her crutches,” she queried.

Madam Djaba said: “I apologise on behalf of the Airline, I apologise on behalf of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, and apologise on my personal behalf as a Ghanaian. This is unacceptable”.

The Gender Minster said being a woman was a disability in itself to some people and when one was a woman and disabled, and then it was treated as a double jeopardy. Worst still, when one was a woman, who was disabled and uneducated, it then becomes a triple jeopardy”.

She noted that there would be stakeholder’s meeting with Ghana Civil Aviation and the Airlineon the issue.

She said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was the Gender Champion of the AU, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Co-Chair Person; therefore, Ghanaians must also champion the cause of PWDs.

“How do you feel as person, who denies a PWD of her right? This is Ghana at 61 year. We are developing a great nation, and we must be serious about issues. This is the time for action,” she said.

“We will leave nobody out or behind. The airline must apologise to the woman and find means and ways of ensuring that PWDs enjoy access on the flight.”

Source: GNA

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