As part of the United Nation’s 57th CSW Forum, there was an event on Tuesday, March 5th, aimed at raising awareness and eliminating Hate Crime: Violence Against Those with Disabilities. The discussion was led by Annette Lawson, the current chair of the Judith Trust, which she founded in 1997 with her family in honor of her sister. The session began with a short story about Jane, a girl with learning disabilities travelling on buses in London, who was jeered at in public for being disabled. The discrimination was so hurtful that Jane got off the bus, making her afraid to travel alone for years.
After this sad, but true, story set the tone for the panel discussion, Annette initiated a brief quiz for the audience, testing our knowledge of statistics regarding violence against those with disabilities. What began as a simple show of hands for yes or no responses quickly turned into heated discussion.
The panel focused primarily on the difficulty of collecting data regarding gendered violence against those with disabilities, as it is hardly ever disaggregated by gender or by disability. The panel also suggested that attitudes of the police force need to be altered so that they understand better how to handle situations like Jane’s experience in the future. They also discussed the prevalence of insult and ridicule against those with disabilities in the workforce. The Women’s Empowerment Principles were suggested as a requirement for businesses to eliminate violence against those with disabilities. Ultimately, their message was that people with disabilities must be seen in a gendered perspective in order to move forward in eliminating discrimination and violence against them.