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26 May 2019, Edition - 1412, Sunday

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Coimbatore

15 years, authorities still look `down’ on her

Anjusha CM

Mariamma Senthilkumar is 3 feet and eight inches tall. She has been running around for the last 15 years with petitions to make authorities consider helping her as she is not tall enough like others.

At 33, Mariamma lives near Poomarket, RS Puram, and finds it hard to make a living as her height stands in her way to get any job. And she has a complain that her husband Senthilkumar is a building worker who rarely gets a job and spends all he earns on alcohol.

“I even tried to see Amma (the then Chief Minister Jayalalitha). I went all the way to Chennai with borrowed money. But the guards and other people did not allow me to see her. Normal people get money, home and everything. I want to know why I am not able to get anything,” she asks.

Beyond promises that they will look into the matter, authorities have done nothing, she says.

The law did not seem to be in her favour as till 2014 dwarfism was not a separate classification in the Act of Persons with Disabilities, 1995, though the clause of locomotor disabilities was added. Though in 2015 the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment introduced The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which said dwarfism should be considered as a distinct disability rather than a part of locomotor.

Mariamma comes under the locomotor disability category with 50 per cent disability which is not likely to improve. “Though I am often scolded by my family members, I borrow money from them and come to Collectorate to file my petitions. I spend around Rs 300 for a petition and cannot travel by bus,” she says.

She even applied under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Housing for all (Urban) under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. She at present lives with her parents and her father works as a watchman.

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