Blogging Against Disablism: Denial of the Right to Exist


by Michelle

enthanasiepropaganda1This post is part of the Blogging Against Disablism campaign. Persons with disabilities were singled out by perpetrators of genocide more than once in the 20th century, as entrenched society discrimination made them quick (and frequently overlooked) targets once situations got particularly nasty. In Nazi Germany, an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 persons with physical or mental disabilities were forcibly sterilized in Hitler’s quest to create a “pure” master race. As the Final Solution developed further, persons with disabilities were the first to be killed by gassing-an actual test run for what would later become the notorious gas chambers at the death camps. (The poster to the right reads: “60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money too.”) Lisa writes on the Pearls of Africa blog that persons with disabilities face severe discrimination in Rwanda, and were particular targets of the genocidal militias in 1994. In addition, given that the genocidal weapon of choice was the machete, a substantial number of survivors sustained permanently disabling injuries; these survivors are not only burdened with the traumatic memory of the violence, but must also face discimination in its aftermath. Though as Lisa notes: “As with many less developed countries, negative attitudes to PWDs are pervasive, with disability being seen as a source of shame. In Rwanda, disabled people are commonly addressed by their disability rather than their real name. It seems, however, that the genocide plays a role in the acceptance of different kinds of disability. Physical disability is more accepted, especially amputees, perhaps because it is more wide-spread after the genocide. Blind and deaf people are particularly isolated.” The upside, however, is that the Rwandan government isn’t completely ignoring the issue. Rwanda ratified the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, signifying an important step towards the realization of those rights (by formally recognizing they exist), though not an end in itself. For more information on advocacy on the rights of persons with disabilities in Rwanda, check out the list provided by MIUSA, Survivor Corps, and Handicap International.narrowbanner2

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One response to “Blogging Against Disablism: Denial of the Right to Exist

  1. globalcool2009

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