Disability Wales

The national association of disabled people's organisations

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5 Ways Disabled People’s Rights Are Under Threat

Right now, we’re asking for your views on disability rights in the UK. Yet you may be wondering if something you’ve experienced is a rights violation, and so this article gives five recent examples of rights violations for disabled people. It’s vital that everyone understands their rights, as then you can let us know in our forum events or survey. With that information, we can pressure the Government, but only if we have that information.

1. ‘Parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’

ITV has noted that twelve-year olds are being kept in police cells during mental health crises. The process can be traumatic for disabled people, who may be frightened that they are being punished by the police when the goal of the intervention is to protect health. While the Welsh Government is speeding up legislation to end the practice, Mind Cymru notes that there are not enough alternative ‘safe spaces’ in place for when the change to the law comes.

2. ‘…parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not held in slavery or servitude and are protected…from forced or compulsory labour.’

Earlier this summer, three men from South Wales were successfully prosecuted for forcing a disabled man to do heavy labour for £10 a day, with beating, and to live in a shed. His ordeal lasted 35 years. If he went undetected for that long, you have to wonder how many others there are. Certainly in Oxford last year, four other men were convicted of the forced labour of a man with learning difficulties.

3. ‘Protect the rights of persons with disabilities…to just and favourable conditions of work, including…equal remuneration for work of equal value…’

In 2014, Lord Freud suggested that disabled people could work for less than the minimum wage. The suggestion was met with an outcry, and Lord Freud apologised unreservedly. However, you need to be vigilant of anyone asking a disabled person to work for less than the minimum wage, as it is a violation of their rights.

4. ‘Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation…’

In August, Disability News commented on a loophole that bus companies are using to dodge accessibility rules. By removing straps from single decker buses and using ‘no standing’ signs, companies are relabelling their single decker buses as coaches, which are exempt from the regulations until 2020. By dodging the rules, disabled people are left with reduced access to transportation.

5. ‘Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence…’

In the run up to the Paralympics, The Guardian reported on a member of the Paralympic wheelchair team who was forced to live in an old people’s home, under rules that meant she couldn’t attend training. As a result, she had to give up her Paralympic dream. It happened as the retirement home was the only accessible option which her council could offer her when she became homeless. Yet a society that defends people’s accessibility rights would have provided more options.

 

Of course, these are just some of the ways disabled people’s rights are under threat. For a full run down of your rights as a disabled person, see the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Also, we have our own handy guide to protecting your rights.

 

The Vital Help You Can Give

If you are the kind of person who really cares about disabled people’s rights, right now there are two ways you can protect them. Firstly, you can book onto one of our three events in Wales where you can discuss the most pressing infringements of your rights. Or, if you can’t make the events, you can fill out the UNCRPD survey. Without your input, we can’t put pressure on the Government to make things better.