Handicap This! September-October 2015

From the September-October 2015 issue of News & Letters

by Suzanne Rose

Use of prolonged restraints at Casa Esperanza in Mexico. The picture is from the Disability Rights International report.

On July 22, Disability Rights International released a report on the torture, trafficking and segregation of children in Mexico, many with disabilities, growing up in state institutions. The disabled children are routinely put in restraints and locked cages. Government funding makes it possible for these institutions to continue their inhuman treatment while the institutions’ directors state that the children have a good quality of life. In response to the report the Mexico City government banned the use of restraints and cages.

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Cumberland County Prison in Carlisle, Penn., isolated a mentally ill man in the prison’s segregation wing for over two months, saying that he was too “unstable” to be with the prison population. Mike Carey, the prison’s deputy warden, agreed that he does not belong there, but the state’s psychiatric hospitals are so full they could not admit new patients. The man is in a cell 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He gets no psychiatric care and is getting worse. Unable to be moved from the prison and unable to appear in court until he is treated at a state hospital, his future is grim.

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The shackling of two students with disabilities in Covington, Ky., has drawn outrage from organizations that deal with disabilities. One student is a nine-year-old who has ADHD, and the other is eight and suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The eight-year-old was handcuffed on his biceps because the cuffs were too big for his wrists. A federal lawsuit was filed on Aug. 6 by the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Law Center saying that the children’s civil rights have been violated.

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Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova’s sister, who has autism and cerebral palsy, was made to leave a café in the city of Nizhny Novgorod this month for “scaring off clients” because of her disabilities. The café owner told them to “go get treatment and get your kid treated too—and only then show up at a public place.” When their mother came to the café and complained to the owner, she was detained by the police for disorderly conduct. The incident is being investigated as a violation of her daughter’s rights.

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The approximately four million disabled people in Iraq face neglect and isolation, and are forced to work in inadequate occupations or beg to make ends meet. People such as Saad al-Dabisi, 55, from Babil, whose left foot was lost when he stepped on a mine during the Iran-Iraq war, face a life of desperation and poverty. His $150 a month pension is not enough to support his wife and three children. He travels in a worn-out wheelchair 1.2 miles a day to sell cigarettes. The disabled are often targeted by terrorists in bombings, and the Islamic State exploits the mentally ill for terrorist operations.

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