Disability Rights News
Justice Demands We Live a Different Set of Values
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the abolishment of the practice of slavery in the United States. Yet we know many people of color are not free. The Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund team have put together a joint statement based on the thoughts and experiences of our team members, with a drive to do more to advance racial justice.
COVID-19: Indonesian Mental Health Association (IMHA)
For persons with psychosocial disabilities locked inside overcrowded social care facilities in Indonesia, a patient outbreak of COVID-19 would be "like a killing field in the institutions," says Yeni Rosa Damayanti, chair of the Indonesian Mental Health Association (IMHA). In some facilities, twenty to 30 residents are crammed into one room, she says, and staff members are not taking the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from getting in and spreading. “They go without any protocols to disinfect themselves, and they go without masks,” says Damayanti, “and [if] one of the residents got infected, it’s very easy to spread out.” Since many of these residents are also at the “end of the line” when it comes to accessing information - often deprived, for instance, of mobile phones and news from the outside via a newspaper or television - they may not even know the virus exists or how to protect themselves from it.
COVID-19: Albinism Umbrella (AU) and Organization for the Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism (OIPPA)
Myths and superstitions about persons with albinism are putting this population at greater risk during this global pandemic. In some parts of Africa, persons with albinism are hunted and sometimes killed because of beliefs that their body parts can alleviate sickness and bring good luck, and as the outbreak of COVID-19 intensifies, DPOs like 2019 DRF Uganda Capacity Fund grantee Albinism Umbrella (AU) in Uganda and 2019 DRF grantee Organization for the Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism (OIPPA) in Rwanda are bracing for an uptick of violence as people search for a coronavirus cure. Even more worrisome, in quarantine persons with albinism may be hesitant to report an attack or attempted kidnapping, fearing they’ll have little recourse. "There is a fear to report, knowing you are locked in this community with the perpetrators,” says Olive Namutebi, Executive Director of the Albinism Umbrella.
COVID-19: Nuanua O Le Alofa (NOLA)
When Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi declared a national state of emergency last month due to COVID-19, Nuanua O Le Alofa (NOLA) sprung into action to make sure his daily briefings about the coronavirus were accessible to everyone. Thanks to their lobbying efforts, the Prime Minister was accompanied for the first time by a Sign Language Interpreter - a woman named Noue Mavaega, NOLA’s policy and research coordinator - on March 23. The Prime Minister was so pleased with Mavaega’s work that his government now includes her in most of its press conferences and she has gained notoriety through the country as “Samoa’s silent communicator.”
COVID-19: National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal (NIDWAN Nepal)
For marginalized groups within the disability community, the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and government lockdowns can be compounded, making such populations as indigenous women with disabilities more vulnerable to abuse and extreme hunger and to the coronavirus itself. “Certain marginalized groups’ identities like sex, disability, indigenous identity, poverty, geography, these things still matter in the COVID-19 situation, and that is why people are not able get their treatment in a very appropriate way and in an intersectional manner,” says Pratima Gurung, DRF/DRAF Grantmaking Committee member, from Nepal. “That means the intersectional kind of approach is not applied because the government has been using the same kind of blanket approach for all persons.”
COVID-19: Malawi Union of the Blind
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Ezekiel Kumwenda, Executive Director of the Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB) and president of the African Federation of the Deafblind (AFDB), has steadfastly advocated for persons with disabilities being included in government responses to the pandemic. In interviews with print and broadcast journalists in Malawi, he has urged officials to make their public health messages as inclusive as possible, and he has noted the discriminatory nature of some of their containment measures, such as social distancing. “People with disabilities, especially those who are blind and Deafblind and rely on caregivers, it means they will not be active. It means it will be very difficult for them to move from one place to another,” he says, without someone to help them.