The “Special people” from the high mountains of Pakistan


In the Hunza Valley, in the north of Pakistan, people with disabilities are called the “special people” by the local population. “Special people” doesn’t’ have any pejorative meaning there.

Their disabilities include mentally retarded, deaf & dumb, slow growth, speech problem and physical disability. But most of these “special people”, especially the ones over 30 years old, have never been diagnosed by doctors or psychiatrists.

Major causes of disability are congenital, deficiency of iodine, marriages within families, lack of proper food intake during pregnancies, early marriages and ignorance about health and hygiene. In the country, these people with special needs are the most neglected, disadvantaged and isolated segment of the population. But with the help of the local community some of disabled men are engaged in various processes of traditional rug weaving (Sharma). The products (goat or yak hair rugs) produced by the disabled people are sold in the local market as well as to tourists.