Saturday, April 18, 2015

How do I mistreat thee, let me count the ways

I've been silent for a while. Bogged down by I don't know what. 24 hours just isn't enough anymore to get everything done. In the interim, several tales of mistreatment of people with disabilities have emerged from around the world. 

In Canberra, Australia, a 10 year old autistic child was reportedly locked into a "cage-like enclosure" erected within his classroom for "time-out" sessions. While no photo of the structure is available, this illustration based on its description accompanied one of the articles about the abuse:
Photo for illustration purposes only | Photo:
Predictably, politicians from the government and opposition have been waxing outraged and promise investigations, retribution, reform etc. See this from Agence France Presse.

I often wonder what goes on behind the closed doors of C.'s school and wish I were a fly on the wall - not merely a parent in the corridor.

Although being the latter has exposed disturbing scenes a few of which I've posted (such as here, here, here, and others). The trouble is, I haven't figured out yet how to publicize them without inviting the staff's wrath. In any case, C. will be "graduating" school in about a year which will free me to whistleblow with impunity.

Over in Israel, a 49 year old woman, Ora Mor-Yoseph, rendered quadriplegic by muscular distrophy, was denied the right to raise the child carried by a voluntary surrogate mother who conceived in India via artificial insemination. The baby was born two years ago in Israel. At birth, the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services handed her over to the adoption services. The latter, barring Mor Yoseph from even seeing the baby, maintained that because she has no genetic ties to the baby, Mor Yoseph has no legal claim to her. The fact that the insemination took place in India, and not in Israel, was also cited as compromising the legality of the surrogacy procedure. 
Quadraplegic mother, Ora Mor-Yoseph
Mor-Yoseph's lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court anticipating a landmark verdict championing the rights of the disabled to have families. Boy, were they off the mark.

Instead, as was reported this week [here], a special panel of seven Supreme Court justices determined that the child must be given up for adoption  in order "to discourage others from following the same route". The judges feared that "choosing to ‘create’ a child may lead to trafficking in children".

Needless to say, Mor-Yoseph and her lawyers emphasized that trafficking in babies was the farthest thing from her mind. Her request to approve parenting by agreement or parenting through a partnership to create a baby was also rejected. She could only parent the child with "official approval", the judges concluded.

Now everyone was well aware that "official approval" was not on the cards – the very fact which compelled Mor-Yoseph to go this difficult route in the first place.

It’s clear that the judges are just blowing smoke with their many excuses. The real reason this woman is being denied the right to raise this child is that she is a quadriplegic. But that was the elephant in the court room.

In the third, a USA tale, a mother is the perpetrator. According to CNN, the woman, eager to visit her boy-friend in Silver Spring, Maryland, entrusted her 21 year old quadriplegic, non-verbal son to the woods near their home in Philadelphia. After a couple of days of absence, his school and an aunt raised the alarm.  Police found him lying on leaves and covered by blankets with his wheelchair and Bible nearby; they  estimate he was alone  for over five days. Dehydrated, he was treated in  hospital.

Meanwhile his mother, who was located and also hospitalized - for an undisclosed reason – is due to be extradited to Philadelphia and charged with not-very-motherly conduct including attempted murder.

Oh, and she has another, non-disabled, 16 year old son. Needless to say he wasn't dumped in the woods.

If nothing else, this trio of tales demonstrates that people like our children are globally discriminated against, in myriad ways and even in the most "enlightened" countries.

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