Handicap This!: June 2024

June 11, 2024

by Elise

Five nursing care employees at Omuta National Hospital in Japan are accused of sexually abusing patients with severe disabilities. National Hospital President Masayuki Kawasaki apologized for the incidents, promising to train the staff about sexual abuse and how to prevent it. Two staff members resigned and the remaining three are working without patient contact. However, no legal action has been taken against any of the abusers, despite the municipal governments where each patient was from receiving the legally required reports of suspected abuse. More than 900 cases of abuse of people with disabilities who live in facilities for them are reported annually. The “Yomiuri Editorial” in The Japan Times calls for reports of such abuse to be made public.

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Disability Rights Advocates

The Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act (HALT) permits a maximum of 15 days in solitary confinement, and prohibits solitary confinement for people with disabilities. New York State Prisons’ use of solitary confinement is illegal, including for people with disabilities. Even though HALT calls for those in solitary to be confined in a cell no more than 17 hours a day, prisoners are confined for up to 23 hours per day. The Legal Aid Society, Disability Rights Advocates and the law firm Winston & Strawn LLC have a class action suit against New York State Department of Corrections, Community Supervision and the state’s Department of Mental Health for violating HALT. Solitary confinement is often used as retaliation against prisoners who try to assert their rights. It is proven that solitary confinement severely affects people’s mental, physical and emotional health and increases the likelihood of suicide. Because of solitary confinement, some people become disabled. Medical care, programming, recreation and resources are often denied to those in solitary. The HALT Solitary Campaign and its co-director, former prisoner Victor Pate, raise awareness via educating lawmakers and the public and push for HALT to be enforced. Pate says prisoners are often leaving prison in worse condition than when they entered.

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Filmmaker Ace Anglia and Suffolk Libraries’ Nicole Smith of the Menopause and Me Project collaborated to make the video Menopause and Me, to assure women with autism and learning disabilities that perimenopause and menopause are nothing to fear nor be embarrassed about and that they are natural occurrences in women’s lives. Women who tell their stories are supported by the Project and are across the spectrums of sexual orientation, disability and culture. All women benefit from the video because it explains some common symptoms while also pointing out that perimenopause and menopause are unique experiences for each woman and, very importantly, assuring women that they are not alone.

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Art by Anthony Lee

People with disabilities make up about 9% of the population in Russia and are about twice as likely to live in poverty. People with disabilities there are recognized as existing because of a Federal Law of the Russian Federation, where previously the USSR claimed people with disabilities did not exist. The Federal Law is supposed to ban discrimination against people with disabilities and grant them equal human rights with able-bodied Russians. But that isn’t happening because the vast majority of people with disabilities do not get the support and resources they need. Children with disabilities who are placed in orphanages usually stay long-term, even though their placements are supposed to be temporary. Reports abound of abuse and cruelty towards children in Russian orphanages. When children with disabilities in orphanages turn 18, they are often forcibly transferred to state-run institutions instead of being transitioned into independent living. As in the U.S., those with disabilities are often paid poverty wages. Some Russians are supporting people with disabilities by creating charities and not-for-profit organizations. Perspektiva is one of them. They help people with disabilities find employment, including arranging internships with international companies. The Russian government needs to step up and help their people with disabilities to live as independently as possible.

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