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Freedom from Exploitation, Violence and Abuse

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  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-08-24 (Rev. 2016-10-03) - Exploitation can involve absence of something or refusal to include something such as ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Wendy Taormina-Weiss.

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"Schools in America continue to struggle with bullying, appropriate educational programming for students with disabilities, and improper restraint issues."

Exploitation can involve the absence of something or the refusal to include something - such as ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The many nations that have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in good faith, or ratified it, have declared their intentions to ensure that people with disabilities live free of exploitation, violence, and abuse. The United States of America is one of the nations that has signed the CRPD, and while the current administration in office has yet to ratify this international treaty - much to our great disappointment, it has indeed signed the treaty. Nations such as England and Australia; however, are making strides towards ensuring these freedoms for the citizens of their nations, as are other nations around the world.

What does the Convention say about freedom from exploitation, violence, and abuse? The CRPD says:

"States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects."

Some definitions can help with understanding what this means. What exactly is, 'exploitation' To exploit someone is to use them selfishly or unethically. For example; when political parties in America use the Social Security programs as a means to promote or prop up their particular campaign, it comprises exploitation of the people who are on the programs - most notably seniors and people with disabilities. The media in America, so quick to present a shocking headline, is guilty of the same exploitation of seniors and persons with disabilities.

Exploitation means taking unfair advantage of people, their characteristics, or their situations. Using a position of power in order to take advantage of people with disabilities and seniors is indeed exploitation. Exploitation can also involve the absence of something or the refusal to include something - such as ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; something America has not done while so many other nations in the world have.

Violence can involve physical force with the purpose of damaging, violating, harming, or inflicting injury on a person. Violence can mean the causing of emotional and/or mental trauma on someone. Violence can also involve abuse. Abuse means:

  • To deceive or trick
  • To use wrongly or improperly
  • To hurt or injure through maltreatment
  • To force sexual activity on; rape or molest
  • To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also says, "States Parties shall also take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse by ensuring, inter alia, appropriate forms of gender- and age-sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers, including through the provision of information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances of exploitation, violence and abuse. States Parties shall ensure that protection services are age-, gender- and disability-sensitive."

Where women in general are concerned, the media in America has utterly failed where exploitation is concerned, presenting image after image and article after article filled with sexist, exploitative content. When it comes to people with disabilities, major news sources have everything but inclusion of us. The politicians of America repeatedly refer to People with Disabilities as, 'seniors,' while giving us token positive recognition at the very best.

Schools in America continue to struggle with bullying, appropriate educational programming for students with disabilities, and improper restraint issues. The entire Medicaid program in America is at risk while several un-necessary wars continue at the cost of billions upon billions of dollars. Corporations continue to evade taxes by the thousands while families with loved ones who experience forms of disabilities struggle to survive.

Unfortunately I have lost track of the number of times stories have appeared online about rape or attempted rape of people with disabilities. The same is true for the number of stories I have read concerning violent assaults against people with disabilities. Some of the criminals who committed these assaults were actually in positions of trust - such as transportation drivers. Many times they got off with nothing more than being fired from their jobs. If people with disabilities had equal rights, these drivers would have been charged with rape and thrown in prison where they belong. America has very serious disability rights issues that must be addressed.

The Convention states, "In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programs designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities."

A trip to the doctor's office can be a real experience for a person with disabilities in America. Many doctors do not have the faintest idea of how to interact with a person who experiences forms of disabilities. Understanding of disability culture is nearly non-existent. Offices are not accessible in many instances, staff members and health care providers remain largely uneducated, and exam tables and other equipment are far from inclusive.

At this point in history America is experiencing a financial crisis. The leadership of America has chosen to take this out on people with disabilities in an exploitative manner, reducing funding for many programs that have been providing essential services for us. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and funding for a great many nonprofit organizations are all at risk of cuts while corporations make incredible profits and war after war continues. America's leadership has chosen exploitation, abuse, and yes - even violence over the rights of the millions of people with disabilities in this nation.

Article 16 of the Convention says, "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse, including through the provision of protection services. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment that fosters the health, welfare, self-respect, dignity and autonomy of the person and takes into account gender- and age-specific needs."

America has been involved in a, 'war on terrorism,' since the year 2001; it is now 2011. America has been involved in a military effort in Libya as well. After the recent debate concerning the debt ceiling between the Democrats and the Republicans, I feel personally violated and exploited by the Republican presentation of the Ryan Plan, efforts to cut Medicaid, efforts to cut Medicare, efforts to cut Social Security, and more.

There are no programs in America designed to help people with disabilities deal with the endless onslaught of political efforts to maul our rights and the programs that help us to survive at even a subsistence basis with some level of health care in this nation. There are no programs in existence in America to help us deal with the exploitative, violent and abusive news media in this nation. There are no programs in this nation that can ever help us to rebuild trust in a nation that is seemingly going in the exact opposite direction the Convention and disability rights requires.

The CRPD also says, "States Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women- and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted."

Watching nations like Australia work towards goals that increase the rights of people with disabilities, all while America has yet to even ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, makes me wonder just how out of touch the leadership in this nation really is. The rest of the world is working towards inclusion of people with disabilities while America is apparently going backwards. As other nations move to create programs aimed at assisting people with disabilities to participate more fully in society, America continues to pursue a path lacking freedom from exploitation, violence, and abuse.




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