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October 19th, 2017

Disabled People’s most basic human rights depend on transforming public attitudes

It’s Hate Crime Awareness week, and as a Third Party Reporting Centre, GDA is joining our partners across the city in stepping up our efforts to raise public awareness that “Hate has no Home in Scotland”.

As the #MeToo campaign has highlighted this week, insidious abuse and harassment are far too common in our society. Disabled women and girls are even more likely to face sexual harassment or assault than non-disabled women, as a survey by GDA and Wise Women previously uncovered in Glasgow. As one respondent put it: “I am a disabled, BME female – I face 3 barriers, 3 times discrimination, and 3 times the risk”.

Just as our culture normalizes gender-based violence and sexual harassment, similarly, too many disabled people are led to believe that negative attitudes, harassment and abuse are a normal part of everyday life

Hatecrimeillustration

We must all fight back and challenge stigma (image by Oglvie Design)

Hate Crime Awareness Week aims to encourage reporting of hate-motivated incidents, by victims or bystanders. This is just one important part of the wider culture change we need to work for together, the other 51 weeks each year! 

Negative attitudes, prejudices, and stigma persist in the UK and impact on disabled people’s most basic human rights, the UN reported last month: the right to life, to dignity and security, to healthcare, education, and a decent income.

As GDA’s drama troupe, the ‘Purple Poncho Players’ have demonstrated from their own lived experiences, Hate Crime is just one rung on the ‘ladder of prejudice’. Everyday stigma and disempowerment are its foundations.

Speaking to other disabled people, friends I’ve made through GDA, I realised that it’s not just me that’s being targeted. It’s something so many of us face, and not enough people know they can speak up about it.

Kim, GDA member

The idea that disabled people’s lives are of less value can be seen all around us: in the negative media portrayals, in Westminster’s war on disability benefits; and in the low expectations, multiple discrimination and micro-aggressions that exclude disabled people from schools, workplaces and our own communities.

Transforming public attitudes could even hold the key to tackling Scotland’s Social Care crisis, as GDA members discussed with the Scottish Government’s Head of Social Care last week. Members shared their experiences of social care cuts, eroding rights and compassion, and sparked a key idea for turning this around: When disabled people’s lives are valued as an asset to society, social care becomes, not a drain on the public purse, but a vital investment in Scotland’s people and economy.

GDA demonstrates every day how valuable disabled people’s contributions are – how peer support and being valued in our community can help people challenge and speak out against discrimination and harassment they experience, and support others to do this too.

Hate Crime Awareness Week is about changing our culture, and you can help:

- If you witness someone being bullied or harassed, please Don’t Stay Silent. Support the victim if you can and make a Third Party Report afterwards.

- Spread the word about 3rd Party Reporting Centres: find your nearest one here.

- Share this bulletin with your colleagues and friends.

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