The Karma of ‘being disabled’ in Thailand: the tension between religious belief, law, and economics

In Thailand, disability is believed among some sectors of society as an outcome of past ‘Karma’. Feeling ashamed that disability is a consequence of bad karma, a great number of parents refuse to register their children with special needs to the registrar, making the latter unable to obtain
several benefits enshrined in the Persons with Disabilities Empowerment Act (PDEA). A belief in bad karma, in consequence, spurs the incompatibility between the PDEA and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to which Thailand is a state party. This incompatibility exacerbated by the belief in bad Karma, in turn, precipitates economic loss directly and indirectly. This paper examines the extent to which the concept of Karma exacerbates the tension between religious belief, law, and economics with respect to the matter of people with disabilities in Thailand. Its data is collected through interview method.