Last week on Facebook, I saw a news video about the deaths of three deaf women. Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl, and Monique Vincent were beaten, mutilated, burned, and their bodies left in a ditch in Haiti this year. Why? Because they were deaf and the murderers believed that was a curse. The video shares the there is a lot of discrimination and violence directed towards people with disabilities, especially women and girls. It states that the public outrage against these murders is “rare”. Leading me to wonder about what types of disability movements are occurring in Haiti.
We often talk about converging identities and oppressions, and how they create opportunities for discrimination, but mostly in a U.S. centered context. This framework marginalizes diversity among international disability rights/justice movements. It is important to explore other cultures’ conception of disability, as well as the structural discrimination that disabled people can be susceptible to. I would love to learn more about the disability movements in other regions.
Link to “Women targeted, killed for being disabled” video: https://www.facebook.com/fusionmedianetwork/videos/1404163132942994/
The Venezuelan movie, Liz In September, follows seven lesbian friends who have come together to celebrate the birthday of the main character, Liz, on a beach in Caracas, Venezuela. Early in the film, we find out that Liz has been living with a very aggressive form of cancer. Liz keeps the return of her illness very private, and only seen confiding in her best friend. She chooses not to go through chemotherapy again because of the deteriorating impact that western medicine has on one’s body. Liz shares that she refuses to spend the end of her life pitied by her loved ones, or subjected to surgery and aggressive treatments. In the film Liz falls in love with a woman named Eva, who comes to the beach to start over after her son died of cancer. When Liz decides to end her life via assisted suicide, Eva agrees to help her because she is sympathetic and understanding of her decision. The term “assisted suicide” is never said in the film, only hinted at. They never explicitly discuss the taboo topic of assisted suicide/physician assisted suicide. It is conveyed as a very personal decision that Liz makes for herself, by herself, and without any outside commentary from her friends.
Throughout our class, we talked a lot about how agency is given to, and taken away from, disabled individuals over control of their bodies. This agency should also extend to control of their deaths. We never discussed the decisions or politics around the choice of a disabled person using assisted suicide to end their life. The circumstances around having the choice to end your life, which is sometimes around receiving a difficult prognosis, are topics that we should discuss, in addition to the “cure vs. no cure” debate. It is important in the disability justice/rights movement to fight to have a better “quality of life”, as well as accessible resources; and in some cases, the right to have a life at all. This is why the topic of legalizing assisted suicide is on the margins of the movements, we are fighting for everyone with disabilities to have agency over their life, we should also work to make it equally accessible for people with disabilities to have agency over their deaths as well.
IMBD Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2325833/