By Julie Espinoza – REACH of Plano Center for Independent Living
As we advocate ratification of the CRPD, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it is important to include what the CRPD would mean for people with disabilities internationally in the areas of abuse and neglect. The absence of rights and the act of hiding of any population in segregated facilities increases abuse, violence, and trafficking. The CRPD goes beyond ensuring the world treats its citizens equally – it prevents the atrocities that follow quietly when one group is denied equality.
At the Disability Rights International website, articles emphasize over and over how violence is linked to power and inequality. Some of the stories are heartbreaking. If people with disabilities have rights, then money can be used to keep them with their families or in their own homes. Institutions can decrease in existence. It’s a vicious chain and you can break it by voicing your outrage that the CRPD has to be argued and fought for after 25 years of the ADA working so well here.
The perfect tie-in is to plan seriously what you are going to do for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2014. If we do not celebrate our successes and our worth, people quickly forget that we are important.
We, people with disabilities, must constantly remind society that we are people first and have inherent worth and important perspectives to contribute. We know that history repeats. We all lose ground as equal citizens when any group is unrecognized. Violence and abuse gain a stronger sanctioned foothold.
Take a moment to read some ideas for what you and / or your agency can do to promote the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and strike against violence against people with disabilities by advocating ratification of the CRPD. One person can draw attention. Be creative!