Nigeria’s first deaf female lawyer, Catherine Chinyere Edeh-Nnadi is a study in courage. An alumnus of University of Ilorin, Kwara state and Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA, the Enugu state-born advocate of inclusive education is also a disability rights campaigner, social entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
I decided that I must marry a deaf person like me because I didn’t want for instance where the family of my husband will be a challenge to me, maltreat me and gossip about my disability. They can also influence their son to maltreat me; I know the society we live in and how it views physically challenged people, the discrimination. That’s why I decided to marry somebody like me. But since I got married, my husband is from Enugu state too, not that we’ve not had differences, but we sort them out by ourselves. We’re living happily and promoting each other. But if a woman with disability marries a man without disability, no matter how they love each other, it will get to a point that the man will start maltreating her because he will say that she has become some form of obstacle to his success or other things. It will take much to keep that marriage; the lady will have to endure so much and with time, he will turn her into a punching bag.
Even in government, a lot is against girls and women with disability. They know me and how stubborn I am in the Enugu Government House; I don’t just take nonsense. Women with disabilities suffer a lot even in the hospital especially the pregnant ones. The case is worse if you are pregnant and on wheel chair. They will say look at, this one is pregnant as if it is a sin for somebody on wheel chair to get pregnant. Then when the person is deaf, it becomes another matter altogether if there is no interpreter. Even in an emergency, when they hear that the person is deaf, they will say please stay aside that they have people to attend to. All these increase the mortality of women with disabilities; so much challenge, so much discrimination that we must all join hands to fight.