New Internationalist

Tormented lives


I watched a most disturbing, and heartbreaking, TV programme the other night. Here’s what the BBC blurb said of it:

In a revealing and moving documentary, disability rights campaigner and confidante of the late Princess Diana, Rosa Monckton, exposes the reality of life for people with learning disabilities facing hate crime.

With daily headline-grabbing accounts of attacks on disabled people that have even led to murder and suicide, Rosa admits she is deeply concerned about the future that awaits her own teenage daughter, Domenica, who has Down’s syndrome. What will life be like for her once Rosa and her husband Dominic Lawson are no longer around to protect her?

In this, Rosa’s second documentary, we see people literally driven from their homes, individuals facing abuse and daily torment just because they have a disability. Rosa meets families under siege in their own homes, and shows how the authorities often fail to respond effectively to the abuse they face. And she tries to help one tormented man, Christopher, in his battle to live independently as a respected and useful member of society.

To be honest I watched in disbelief. And utter shame, to think we have created a society where this sort of thing can happen. And is allowed to happen. It seems the authorities are not too concerned either. In the two years up until the end of March 2009, 576 people were prosecuted for disability hate crimes with 76 per cent of the completed cases resulting in a conviction.

It has been said that the moral test of any society is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and those with learning disabilities.

Well, we’re not doing very well, are we?

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