Sunday, January 01, 2006

Why 2005 Was a Year of Shame...Could FRIDA Make 2006 Better?

Here in Chicago, 2005 looked like a fairly good year for disability rights. We've got a CIL with connections and a new building slated to open in late 2006, we've got well-known disability advocacy groups in the area, we've got an annual Disability Pride Parade and heck, this year we're going to have a disability arts festival. We've got a lot of good women advocates with disabilities around town and some good programs for girls with disabilities. i.e., the Empowered Fe Fes and the RIC M&Ms.

That's nice. all were watching the news in 2005, right?

People around the world are still killing women and girls with disabilities who they believe to be "suffering." Remember how Terri Schiavo was starved to death in March?

In New Zealand, an immigrant was suspected of trying to kill his Deaf daughters in a car accident. New Zealand does not allow people with disabilities to become citizens. Somebody, somewhere, assumed the family would be better off without them...

An Illinois nursing home employee raped and impregnated a young female resident, whose mother took her new grandchild home in August. The female resident has lived with her sister in nursing homes since she was a child and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Hurricane Katrina devastated the lives of countless women with disabilities, both in nursing homes and in the community. Remember how wheelchair users being airlifted out of the area had to leave their wheelchairs behind? And remember spotting folks with disabilities either dead or at the point of death at the Superdome?

Forced sterilization came back in the spotlight this year with the case of Kirsten Johnson, a young woman with a TBI who has stated that she would like to be able to have children. Instead, she is fighting her guardian in court for the right not to be permanently sterilized.

Jerry's Orphans staged a brave confrontation with Jerry Lewis at his November book signing at the Chicago Public Library. The rage and abuse directed at our activists there, especially the women, demonstrated a particularly ugly side of human nature. The abuse came not only from Jerry but from audience members as well.

Oh, and 2005 was the year Million Dollar Baby won a squad of Oscars... and we continue to have a disability unemployment rate of about 70%.

With these events and many more in mind, it's clear that 2006 is yet another year in which we *must* continue to actively resist, whether by letter writing, protest, lobbying, advocating, suing and so on. However we can make 2006 a new year...we can unite and take action as women with disabilities, and allies.

Together, FRIDA declares 2006 "open season" on gender and disability oppression.