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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Kerala Small Men fight for rights
Dwarf association in Kerala
The association's height limit is 135cm (54 inches)
Dwarfs in the southern Indian state of Kerala have come together to fight for their rights.

The Kerala Small Men Association has 300 members across the state and is demanding what it calls "special recognition" from the government.

A recent regional film "Adbhutha Dweep" or Wonder Island, which cast 300 dwarfs, has been a huge hit and is thought to have inspired action.

The men want job quotas, free bus rides and other facilities.

Legislation

"We face considerable discrimination because of our size - we are at a disadvantage everywhere. We require special recognition," Asokan, a member of the association, told the BBC's Sridevi Pillai in Trivandrum.

Many of us are very talented - we want to show the public that we don't want their sympathy
Radhakrishnan Ajaykumar
Film artist

There are thought to be nearly 500 people of restricted growth across the state. The association's height limit is 135cm (54 inches).

The association's vice-president, Balakrishnan Karassery, said it wanted dwarfs listed as "orthopaedically handicapped".

"We are treated like kids everywhere. We are big enough to say what we want," Mr Karassery said.

One association member, graduate Thomas Joseph, said: "It is a question of human rights. We have special problems and we have special needs too, it is time we fight for our rights.

"Discrimination is there, especially in the job market. I have been turned down from many job opportunities."

Another member, Mubash, said: "We make people laugh but nobody thinks about our sad fate.

"Earlier, we were getting opportunities to work in the circus but that industry has collapsed and most of us are out of a job."

PT Thomas, a local lawmaker, told the AFP news agency: "Only those persons who have above 40% deformity are entitled to get benefits or reservations.

"The government has to enact a law to include dwarfs in the list."

The state also has a Tall Men of Kerala association with 600 members over six feet (1.82) metres.



SEE ALSO:
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30 Jan 04 |  Entertainment
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Dwarves look to end discrimination
12 Nov 03 |  UK Politics


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