Disabled Indians use apps, chat groups to find love, navigate life

A WhatsApp message group for women with prosthetic legs helps them navigate everyday challenges, be it relationships or shoes. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2017
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Disabled Indians use apps, chat groups to find love, navigate life

MUMBAI: Disabled Indians are finding love and tips for everyday life on mobile apps and chat groups, as technology helps level the field for a community that is often stigmatized and ignored.
A mobile matchmaking app for the disabled has facilitated at least half a dozen marriages since its launch, while a WhatsApp message group for women with prosthetic legs helps them navigate everyday challenges, be it relationships or shoes.
“At least two thirds of disabled people are single — and not from choice,” said Kalyani Khona, 24, founder of matchmaking app Inclov, short for ‘inclusive love’.
“Dating and matchmaking sites are not really inclusive, and there is such a stigma around disabled people that they are resigned to being alone,” she said.
India is home to nearly 27 million disabled people.
They are largely an invisible minority, with a lack of access to public transport and to spaces such as restaurants and movie theaters.
Women are particularly at a disadvantage, often considered a burden by their families because they cannot marry easily.
Inclov, developed with money raised from crowdfunding, has about 19,000 registered users in India; men make up 80 percent.
“We are aware that not everyone with a disability has access to a smartphone,” Khona told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Access for women is particularly limited, and they are also more inhibited,” she said.
About 15 women, all with prosthetic legs, get together on a private shared space on WhatsApp to share their common experiences — talking pregnancy, menstruation, and also what footwear is practical, but also cute.
Set up by three women who shared the same prosthetist in Mumbai, the women are all in their 20s and 30s; most are single.
It is not a support group, said Antara Telang, who lost a leg when a branch fell on her during monsoon rains.
“All of us in the chat group know the challenges that women with leg amputations face, and we support each other through everything,” said Telang, 25.
“It’s not just about our disabilities; it’s about interacting with people who understand what you’re going through. Posting on Reddit doesn’t provide the same kind of support that five people saying ‘OMG yes, me too!’ does.”


Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

Updated 19 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

  • Broadcast of political messages in coverage forbidden, analyst confirms.
  • Saudi football federation urges FIFA to sanction the Doha-owned channel.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has a justified case in complaining to FIFA over the “politicization” of the World Cup by the Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports, a prominent TV analyst has said.
A flurry of comments by hosts and pundits aired on BeIN’s Arabic station prompted the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to complain to FIFA this week, saying the broadcaster was using the football tournament to spread political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.
In its complaint, the federation called on FIFA to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.
One BeIN commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while a Doha-based international footballer invited on the channel was allowed to call for an end to the year-long boycott of Qatar by neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal TV research analyst at IHS Markit Technology, said that politicized coverage was expressly forbidden by world football’s governing body as well as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
“FIFA and UEFA forbid the transmission of political messages during football matches for which they control the rights. It’s not only comments by the broadcasters — but even banners; everything (political) is forbidden,” the analyst told Arab News.
“So messages about Palestine, about political things, are not allowed.”
Papavassilopoulos said that if there is evidence of such cases, authorities in the Kingdom would be justified in taking the matter to FIFA.
“If there are video clips that show BeIN media personnel speaking against Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has a case,” he said.
But whether FIFA will take any action against BeIN is another matter. Papavassilopoulos pointed to the fact that BeIN is a valued client of FIFA — it bought the rights to host the World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa — and that Qatar plans to host the tournament in 2022.
“BeIN media is a very good client for FIFA. And don’t forget that Qatar is the country that will host the 2022 World Cup,” he said. “It’s going to be very very hard for FIFA to impose penalties on BeIN media knowing that Qatar will hold the next World Cup.”
Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against BeIN’s politicization of World Cup coverage, urging FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.