Category Archives: Women

White ribbon day November 25th

The White Ribbon web site says “White Ribbon offers men the opportunity to be part of the solution to end violence against women.
Violence is endemic within New Zealand. One in three women are victims of violence from a partner, while on average fourteen women are killed each year by a member of their own family.
White Ribbon is a campaign led by men who condemn violence against women and take action. We are part of a global campaign committed to ending violence against women.
You can help effect change by supporting White Ribbon.
Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.”
Disabled women experience violence from disabled and non-disabled men in the same way non-disabled women and girls experience it, although so far no-one has collected the statistics, but we know it happens

Violence towards disabled women and girls deserve serious attention and they deserve same level of protection that non-disabled women and girls have.

So come on guys, disabled and non-disabled, wear your ribbons, and more importantly say no to violence against ALL women.

You can also support the Disability Clothesline project.

Article 16, Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse of the UN Disability Rights Convention (CRPD) requires protected from violence and abuse for disabled people, including disabled women of course.

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Disability simulation is an In-valid tool for learning

I have always been somewhat suspicious of simulations of disability, no matter what the context. How easy is it really to replicate someone’s experience? I use the analogy of labour and childbirth. While I might wish that long and uncomfortable experience of mine on a few males of my acquaintance, I defy modern physical science and psychology to do so. Without the psychological makeup of whatever kind, the preceding experience and the relevant anatomical makeup the simulation would be meaningless.

It goes without question that no one these days would suggest an attempt to simulate belonging to another race as a valid or ethical activity.

While simulation exercises may claim to give insight into the experience of impairment and disability, the so called insight can be positive or negative, depending on how the recipient processes the experience. They could end up believing that the utter helplessness or disempowerment they may feel in such an unfamiliar situation is the everyday experience of all disabled people, which would be counterproductive, and false.

Disabled people do not experience disability in this way. Even if the onset is sudden there is usually some way of learning to cope and adapt before being thrown into a newly unfamiliar world. Disabled people in my experience are very creative and adaptable.

It is one experience, that’s all it is. Disabled people are as different as everyone else, and each disabled person will experience their life in a different way, as non-disabled people do.

Disability simulation is not a game either. It often is in simulation exercises which is trivialising and rather insulting. While living with disability has its fun side, it is generally not a game.

Finally, and most importantly – What’s wrong with listening to our voices as disabled people? Our voices are valid and credible, and yes they will be different and reflect different experiences. But they will tell it like it is, from our perspective.

If non-disabled people want to make a difference to the lives of disabled people in a disabling world they should hear those voices and act on what they learn from disabled people themselves, rather than trying to appropriate our experience and reflect it through a non-disabled world view.

Simulating disability is like simulating labour and childbirth, impossible. Get over it.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Miscellaneous, Women

The Disability Clothesline

A black triangle on a white ground has a clothesline with pegs wound round it. It is interesting to hear Judge Peter Boshier from the Family Court calling for a radical rethink of the way we deal with domestic violence in New Zealand. He cites cases of suicide because of the lack of support for victims. He also cites the lack of accountability of the perpetrators through programmes never completed.

Nowhere is the need for action more acute than in the disability community where reporting is low, and penalties for murder lighter than for murder of non-disabled people. I know of at least once case of suicide caused by bullying, and more attempts.

Domestic violence has a different meaning in the disability context. The nuances include the usual domestic and family violence which includes murder. It includes bullying in the workplace and in schools at all levels which is nonetheless violence if not domestic violence. All forms, including domestic violence, are experienced by disabled women and men.

Violence also occurs in institutions large and small. This is complicated as the perpetrators are sometimes in paid employment with service providers. If violence comes from other residents there are often few choices or alternatives for either party in their living arrangements or who they live with. But in either case it is the victim’s home. They have nowhere else to live or to escape to. Violence prevention services are beginning to take notice but their focus is quite limited and inadequate in the disability context.

As White Ribbon Day approaches I am struggling with this as I reflect on the unnecessary suffering many disabled people experience at the hands of others in a variety of situations. We have all got stories to tell, but to tell them is a frightening prospect. Many have been deeply buried for a long time and bringing them into the light of public scrutiny may seem like opening old wounds, It can also feel like inviting more pain from those who already think they have he right to intrude in disabled people’s lives in ways they would never consider appropriate for non-disabled people.
Victims who experience this include children and the most physically and psychologically vulnerable and fragile people in our communities.

This “ownership” of disabled people and their issues by others results in a fundamental and significant difference between violence experienced by disabled and non disabled people. It must be acknowledged and understood by anyone who wants to work in this area.

The Disability Clothesline therefore is a project whose time has come. It provides a medium for disabled people to safely tell their stories and perhaps find some healing by decorating tee shirts with their stories in whatever way they want. Supporters and those fortunate enough not to have a story to tell can sign a supporters’ sheet. The tee shirts and the sheet are hung on the clothesline for all to see, to provide education and promote action.

The project wants everyone to know that:

  • Violence and abuse against disabled people is not OK
  • It is OK to talk about it and share stories
  • Violence towards and abuse of disabled people is a serious problem
  • Action can be taken to prevent and detect it
  • Everyone can do something about it
  • As an issue it is just as important as other forms of violence
  • Disability violence and abuse is part of the white ribbon campaign

We are hanging out our dirty washing in public. You can too. Nothing about us without us!

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Media, The Arts, Women

Disabled Parenting

Our younger daughter is about to set off on her great OE in the footsteps of her sister.  I am a real wuss and cry each time one of them leaves home to go flatting, never mind leaving the country! I do admit to not missing the mess in the bathroom, the long hair in the shower plughole and the fussy eating. But they are very minor things in the scheme of things

I am happy to see her spread her wings and to pursue that right of passage for young Kiwis, I don’t know what it will be like to have both our daughters offshore and I dread it. Thank heavens for email, Facebook and skype. When I did my OE it was a aerogramme once a week and an occasional postcard if you were lucky. And you NEVER phoned home unless it was a life or death situation or you had completely run out of money which amounted to the same thing. But it will be hard not being able to hang out with and hug one of them at least.

Because I am thinking about them a lot more even than usual at present I have been reflecting on parenting, and for me that means reflecting on being a disabled parent. How fortunate I have been to have my girls. Unlike many disabled mothers I have had a supportive husband and family, and lovely plunket nurses. No-one ever questioned my right to be a mother, and I have never been in a position so precarious that the powers that be thought it necessary to take my children away from me simply because of my impairment and/or because I could not pay for the support I needed.

All of these things happen to disabled women everywhere. Sadly New Zealand has little support for disabled mothers beyond the services available for all women. They are not always the most supportive for disabled parents.

But our girls have been my best and most loyal supporters, even when they were little. They have never been ashamed of my impairment in front of their friends, (apart from the usual teenage stage of not wanting to be seen with their parents,) They have always accepted without question or negative comment my disabled friends, and even in the worst of teenage tantrums never showed resentment about the things I haven’t been able to do with or for them as they have grown up.

When they were little the dreaded “h” word “handicapped” was the equivalent of the dreaded “f” word, not to be uttered under any circumstances. They have even been known to rebuke their teachers for using it.

I have tried not to burden them with extra cares because of my impairment and was furious when a woman bus driver, after seeing my ‘blind’ bus pass said to one of them “now you look after your Mummy” She was only six! I wanted to say “I am the mother she is the child. I look after her!” but decided she wouldn’t get it.

So, my dear godwits fly away. Enjoy your freedom. Have fun and learn about the world but come back home before too long.

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