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.”


Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

Updated 25 September 2018
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Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

  • The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent
  • Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International

HANOI, Vietnam: A court in southern Vietnam has sentenced an activist to 27 months in prison for Facebook posts that judges say insulted the ruling Communist Party and government and called for anti-government protests.
Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, 42, was convicted “abuse of democratic freedom to infringe on the legitimate interests of the state” by the People’s Court in Ninh Kieu District in Can Tho province after a one-day trial Monday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
The agency quoted judges as saying Quang’s actions “actively abetted hostile and reactionary forces from inside and outside the country” who want to overthrow the party and government.
Court officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent. Quang was third activist to be jailed in a week on similar charges.
On Saturday, Nguyen Hong Nguyen and Truong Dinh Khang, were convicted of insulting the Communist Party and its leaders, including late founding President Ho Chi Minh, and sentenced to two years and one year respectively in separate cases in Can Tho province.
Despite sweeping economic reforms over the past 30 years that opened Vietnam to foreign investment and trade that made it one of fastest growing economies in the region, the Communist Party tolerates no challenge to its one-party rule.
Some Western governments and international human rights groups criticize Vietnam for jailing people for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi says only lawbreakers are put behind bars.
Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International.