People with dwarfism are dealing with a lot of stereotypes in their daily life, and they are constantly fighting against discernment. However, there are a lot of support groups and institutions in a mission to improve the quality of life for Little People, and remove all social barriers, myths and false-negative stereotypes about them. What they need the most is social acceptance.
These little people are like anyone else, big or tall, short or fat – the average lifespan of anyone is going to come down to that individual person’s health. Dwarfism is not so much of a condition of the body but rather a categorical way of defining the person in question. True there can be physical limitations placed on an individual with dwarfism, again depending on the person and what kind of dwarfism they have. They are like you and me; they have every right to live a normal life. These days many Dwarf members have won medals for the country and most of them are equally contributing to the Indian economy.
The things little people have to deal with are often unique to their situation. For some, the hardest part of being a little person is the acumen they face. Living as a little person is like being the main attraction at the circus. Going grocery shopping, going to public places – it’s like being a celebrity, and the whole world is their paparazzi. Some laugh at them and some get amused and most of the people click pictures with them to showcase.
This constant attention is killing, and even frightening. The attention involves pointing, staring, derogatory comments, and outright bullying. Their existence is a joke to people. We need to understand they too need privacy and space, they need their corner and they need normal acceptance. The deliberate attention is very bad and uncomfortable. We need to educate our children to behave normally with them.
They face various challenges at ATMs, ticket machines, gas pumps, and self-service checkout registers can be difficult, if not impossible, for little people to use. All of these machines are designed with the average adult height in mind, which makes reaching the device in order to operate it a challenge. While adaptive devices do exist, they aren’t always convenient. Car Airbags are designed to protect against serious injury in a car crash, but they can be fatal for little people. That’s because they’re designed to meet average-sized people in the chest and abdomen, which means that they can smother people of shorter stature.
Shoes are usually designed either for children or for average-sized adults. Little people’s feet are often the length of children’s feet, but they can be much too wide to fit into children’s sizes. Even if children’s sizes do fit, finding styles that are appropriate for adults can be challenging. Dating isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, but for little people, there are some extra obstacles. Little people have two choices: they can either date other little people, or they can date average-sized people. Both present their own sets of issues. Dating average-sized people often means facing prejudice, if not from the person they’re dating, then from their family and friends. It’s not uncommon for little people to hear things like “if you weren’t little, I would date you.”
While dating inside the community means shared experiences and understanding, it isn’t always easy either. As of now, only Telangana and Kerala have done something to help this community. The Uttarakhand government, in January, offered an allowance of ₹800 per month to eligible dwarf adults and also gave them reservations in certain services of the state government but implementation is still an issue. No other states have even given a thought to making these lives better. They don’t even have government job quotas.
There are no dedicated groups or active organizations to ensure the rights of dwarfs in India. In India, sympathy is seen mostly for people with disabilities. However, the problem is also that there are very few organized groups that are fighting for the rights of the dwarf population. They should get together and demand their rights collectively. It is also important to give them political reservations. If they aren’t politically represented, it will be tough for them to fight for their rights. We all need to raise our voices for fellow humans.
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