What percentage of the disabilities are invisible

Invisible in Pakistan

Many of their parents are related - consanguinity between spouses is nothing special in Pakistan, the country with the highest proportion of relatives in the world. On average, 56 percent of all marriages are between first- and second-degree cousins, and nine percent are between other relatives. Only 35 percent of those who are married are not related.

A close relationship between the parents can be a reason for the increased occurrence of genetic defects in the children. Hearing disorders and deafness are on the rise: while one in 1,000 people worldwide is affected, it is 1.6 in 1,000 in Pakistan; 70 percent of the cases occur in related marriages.

In the country, every second or third person marries his or her first or second cousin, explains Dr. Hafeez-ur-Rehmann, who headed the Department of Anthropology at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad for many decades. Culture and tradition wanted it that way. People like to stay among themselves, also because of their social status, adds the anthropologist. The majority of Pakistanis are unaware of the genetic risks, says Hafeez. Only the small, educated class of the country is slowly beginning to break with tradition. Education is an exception in Pakistan. Only 55 percent of the population can read and write. Only 36 percent of all women and 46 percent of all men attend secondary school at all.

Neighbors with a similar fate.

A woman with henna-dyed hair is sitting in one of the small mud houses in Khurram Dan. “It is God's decision when a child is born sick,” she shouts, almost angry, into the room. Next to her is a girl, Sunra Zahar, who has been mentally handicapped since she was born. Another woman stands silently next to her, after a while she runs out of the house towards another house. This is her house, she explains in a low tone, and after a while she adds, almost apologetically: She also has a disabled daughter. After all, her other five children are healthy.

Zainik Biki was also born with an intellectual disability. Her mother, Shaheen Kausar, speaks openly about it. She has to look after them 24 hours a day, she says, and seems exhausted. Her husband has died, the widow's pension is not enough in front and behind. Another child, a son, is studying, the other is still going to school. Zainik sits hunched over next to her mother on a simple lounger with a colorful floral ceiling on it. She cannot talk or walk. Spit is running out of your mouth.

No prospect of a job.

Integrating disabled people is difficult in a country like Pakistan. The country is far from the idea of ​​inclusion - which is not yet a matter of course in Germany either. Still, there are attempts to help.

There are four centers across Islamabad that specialize in different types of disabilities. These centers - there are another 40 nationwide - are coordinated by the General Directorate for Special Education. 300 to 600 children between the ages of five and 15 come to the centers in Islamabad every day by bus. Here you can acquire basic school knowledge. They then have the opportunity to learn special skills - be it weaving baskets, working leather, using computers or cooking.

"After that, there is unfortunately the problem that nobody wants to employ disabled people," reports the employee of the general management. Most of them want a job with the government - after all, it is safe. Officially, the Pakistani government has to give two percent of its jobs to people with disabilities. Nobody checks whether they keep this quota. “What we need are more supervised services,” says the employee seriously. In addition, there is a lack of accommodation for the disabled, training opportunities and aids such as wheelchairs.