A couple of days ago I was giving a presentation in Torquay to a mixed group of parents and professionals. The topic, how to prevent the sexual abuse of people with disabilities, is a difficult one because prevention begins with awareness and awareness, in this case, hurts. One of the people attending, a mother of a child with a disability, put her hand up and made a comment. She reported of two rapes of teenagers with Down Syndrome in the area and then talked about her connection with a Down Syndrome service group who report that they have had a huge increase in calls regarding the safety and vulnerability of adults. She said that she just wanted everyone to know that the problem is 'local' that they were not to think that these were 'American' or 'Canadian' problems. She was worried that a need to disbelieve would have those attending begin denial with a 'but that wouldn't happen here'.
I applaud her boldness and her assertiveness. She wanted to be clear that abuse happens everywhere. Even here. Even there. Even in far flung places.
Later that day I got an email from Dick Sobsey who wrote to me about a case in Korea wherein a judge has given suspended sentence to a grandfather and three uncles who have repeatedly raped, over a several year period starting when she was nine, a young woman with a disability. The reason for the suspended sentence?
Are you ready for this?
So they could continue caring for her.
This has sparked international outrage. I ask you to become informed ... take a look at ICAD to read a report and then please vote on ICAD's poll.
I have tried without success to find the link to sign the international petition but was unable to, I am fully trusting that someone out there has the search skills that I lack.
It matters that we care about this little girl. It matters that we express ourselves in whatever way we can. Somehow she must know that there is a community of people who want her safe, who want her protected, who want her respected. Somehow we must not become used to travesties of justice. Somehow we need to figure out how to respond as a community, powerfully.
I cast my vote on ICAD's poll.
But it's not enough.
But then, what could be?