Dec. 10, 2014

Human Rights 365 – for people with disabilities!

The theme for the United Nations International Human Rights Day 2014 is “Human Rights 365”, reflecting the idea that human rights matter every day of the year.

With this in mind, it is worth remembering that a Canadian legal decision has garnered international attention for its potential impact on the rights of people with disabilities. In February 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada announced a landmark decision in a court case called “D.A.I.”, in which it recognized the right of people with disabilities to testify in cases where they report sexual assault and abuse.

The D.A.I case recognized that women and men with mental disabilities (including intellectual disabilities, brain injury and mental health issues) have a right to testify if they can describe the abuse that they experienced. Before this decision, people with mental disabilities were often not allowed to testify unless they could explain the meaning of abstract concepts like promise, truth and falsehood. No other category of witness is required by law to meet this test.

Still, people with disabilities, especially women, continue to face many barriers to reporting abuse and experience abuse at higher rates.

Women are less likely to report because they may not be aware of available services or may have trouble making contact with them. As well they may fear losing their financial security or even being institutionalized.

This December 10, 2014, International Human Rights Day, we call on our allies to support women with disabilities and Deaf women in telling their stories of violence and abuse, as a way to claim their right to speak, to be heard and to be believed.

Click here to find out more about our social media campaign “We Can Tell and We Will Tell!”


A message from Bonnie Brayton,

National Executive Director