Dark side of disability

Feb 23, 2013, 08:00 IST | MiD DAY Correspondent

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius, South African sprint runner, who has double below- the-knee amputations and is known as the blade runner, has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Steenkamp was fatally shot by Pistorius at his home in Pretoria in the early hours of February 14.

While the world seems riveted by the ongoing court proceedings, people are also shocked. Pistorius, who has had a controversial career, was seen as a superhero for many, an inspirational figure that had faced the challenges posed by his handicap. While the verdict in the case is yet to be delivered, what it shows us is that the physically handicapped are as fallible and have the same frailties as the abled.

Many times, because of their handicap, they evince a great deal of sympathy from society at large - and here we are not dismissing the fact that they face huge challenges because of their disability, especially in India where infrastructure and attitudes towards the disabled need radical change. In a world made largely for able persons, they are the shining underdogs and as in sport, so in life - people are especially happy when the underdog wins.

So, there is some element of surprise when the disabled is accused of a crime, or when he is involved in deceitful, devious behaviour. His handicap certainly does not put him above this. People who work in different fields for the physically disabled do talk about how the disabled too are capable of cheating, plotting or can also be involved in serious crimes. These Children of a Lesser God, as they are sometimes known as, do have their dark side too, and their shades of grey. The Pistorius case helps us remember that. 

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