Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan (Staff Report) – A 23-year-old woman has decided to take a local bank to court for denying her ATM card only because she has speech disorder.


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Fatima Hassan, a graduate of Visual Communication Design from Beaconhouse National University of Lahore, Pakistan, is a wonderful student. She also helps the department in different ways and earns through her sheer hard work. She is not, at all, a burden on society or her family.

Since she was in school, Fatima and her family had dreams for her success in life despite her speech disorder. She did well in studies and defeated popular narratives that children with disorders cannot achieve professional success in Pakistan.

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But the corporate culture in Pakistan is not ready to accept her.

Fatima approached a local bank, Bank Al-Habib, to open a bank account. She wanted to feel like every other girl who could earn and can spend according to her own desires. She was granted bank account after standard procedures and she was very happy when she first time held cheque book in her hand.

She was proud of herself that she, with the support of her family and people around, had defeated her shortcomings like speech disorder.

However, her happiness was half and incomplete. The bank denied her an ATM card because she could not speak and could not go through standard procedure set by bank authorities for verification or confirmation of her details for ATM card activation.


Such rules and procedures set by State Bank of Pakistan violate the Constitution of Pakistan – that allows and ensure equal rights of every citizen.


This dropped like a bomb on Fatima, as she was informed by the bank that “people with speech disorder cannot have ATM cards like other normal people because they cannot vocally verify their identities”.

According to her Facebook status, Bank Al-Habib told her that opening a joint account with someone who does not suffer from a speech disorder was the only way she could get an ATM Card.

In other words, she was told that she is not a ‘complete person’ and she will need someone to play second fiddle in her banking affairs.

Fatima wrote on her Facebook account: “I can’t imagine the bank refused to give my ATM Card, as I have a speech disorder and I can’t get it activated on my own… were they blind when I filled the application for individual account opening? They should have suggested me then that I should get a joint account open instead.”

The issue poses serious question on the rules and procedures set by State Bank of Pakistan because these rules violate the Constitution of Pakistan – that allows and ensure equal rights of all citizens of the country.

These rules are also in denial of basic human Rights.

Fatima has decided to fight her case with the bank and fate of her case will decide the fate of equal human rights of those citizens of Pakistan who have speech disorder.

Such discriminatory attitude towards people on the basis of medical problems need to stop. Regardless of what the bank thinks of her speech disorder, Fatima Hassan is an inspiration for all of us – more power to you girl!