2.3.2 Social and attitudinal barriers
You will recall from Study Session 1 that one of the main reasons for exclusion is the attitudes of other people. In Ethiopia, social and attitudinal barriers of shame, fear, prejudice against disabled people and the mistaken belief that disability is a curse cause the greatest problems. Persons with disabilities may be kept hidden at home where they are separated and isolated. This may be because the family feels ashamed or sometimes because they are overprotective of a disabled family member and want to shield them from the stares and abuse of other people.
Social barriers may prevent people with disabilities from accessing WASH facilities at home and in the community. They may also keep them away from community meetings, often adding to physical barriers if the meeting place is inaccessible. The organisers of the meeting may not be aware of the importance of inclusion and not understand why persons with disabilities should attend these meetings. Or they may not think that people with disabilities have the same WASH needs as everyone else, for example many people believe that girls with disabilities do not menstruate. This excludes them from participation in discussions and decisions about WASH services and other community issues. These social and attitudinal barriers are not only found at the community level, but also in the attitudes of WASH sector actors at all levels (COWASH, 2017).