Persons living with dwarfism have difficulty socialising and getting spouses. They also claim it is hard to secure jobs due to discrimination on the basis of their height. Further discrimination by parents and the community does not help matters.
“I know so many men with dwarfism who are past 40 years but are not married because most women regard them as inferior,” said the National Coordinator of the 300-member Short Stature Society of Kenya (SSSK), Hussein Kenga Mweri (pictured).
Because they cannot get jobs easily, they tend to be dismissed for being financially unstable to take care of a family, he added.
“The luckiest among us are those with money and status as they easily get spouses. But if you are struggling, chances are you will be condemned to a long ‘dry spell,’ said Mweri, lamenting that when it came to job interviews “it is common to find interviewing panel bogging down prospective employees with too many questions even when they’re backed with relevant papers, a rigmarole which normal people are not subjected to.”
People living with dwarfism are considered only fit to work as entertainers despite some of them having professional qualifications.
Mweri blamed poor commitment by parents as “it is very common to find an 18-year-old in Class Eight, having started schooling much later after age six when most children are admitted to Class One. This is because most parents focus on educating ‘normal’ children who they think stand a better chances of success,” explained Mwari.
Being mistaken as children is one of the biggest challenges facing persons with dwarfism, he said.
“We are often asked to stand up in matatus to give way for grown-ups!” he added.