Judy Heumann joined the YALI Network team to answer questions about how to end violence against persons with disabilities. As the special advisor for international disability rights, Heumann fights for the civil rights of the disabled community and disadvantaged people. She has worked internationally with disabled people’s organizations and governments for over 30 years.
How can you protect the rights of people with disabilities?
Discrimination against persons with disabilities in the workplace violates Article 27 of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Heumann, herself, has been the victim of workplace discrimination. To hear more about her personal experiences, watch her recent TEDx talk.
Some people falsely believe disabilities are a result of being cursed and therefore shun the disabled community. This international concern comes from a lack of exposure to disabled people, fear of difference and fear of acquiring a disability. Community leaders, local organizations, the media and disabled people play critical roles in advocating for the end of this stigma and violence against disabled people.
Disabled people not only battle the stigma placed on them by their community but also the stigma they place on themselves. A support system helps them feel like part of a larger community of people who can fight alongside them for the rights of persons with disabilities.
The best way to enact change at the governmental level is to include disabled people’s organizations while working to hold your government accountable.
Since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, countries have begun developing and revising their laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Organizations of persons with disabilities should always be included in the conversation when considering new legislation.
Disabled individuals can be proactive and protect themselves by knowing their rights and reporting acts of violence made against the disabled community.
To learn more about how violence against persons with disabilities is a global human rights issue, read this blog post from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.