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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Friday, February 09, 2007

THE RIGHT TO GROW UP

I’ve changed a lot since this photo was taken of course but the experiences I went through at that age still affect me today. Undoubtedly, childhood is one of the best times of our life, as we don’t stop to worry about life, the future or even our reputations.


CAPTION: A younger version of me with a cheeky smile. Taken during one of my visits to London, UK.

Of course, I was a quiet child who never got into trouble… err… ok that’s not quite true … but my point is that we take it for granted that we should one day lead our own life and take our own decisions. Yet, as an adult who is a wheelchair user, the tendency is that in a public setting I may be regarded as a child and it’s not the first time I’m treated as one.

Believe me, it’s not nice at all. And the worse thing is that you’re expected to remain calm as the waiter asks your friend what you’ll be having and then having to foot the bill yourself … aaaah!

Now, on a serious note, the fact is that disabled people are often treated as children. This is particularly true of people with an intellectual impairment who are regarded by many to be incapable of speaking for themselves. Granted, you may find people who may find it difficult to express who they are but that doesn’t mean they’re not persons.

Thus, it came a shock to me to read about Ashley, who was given treatment to stop her growing. Whilst I cannot judge the parents for taking such a decision, I shiver at the implications of such an action. For in crude terms, they have not only engineered their daughter by altering her growth but they also stopped her from becoming a woman.

Both interventions, to my view, reduced Ashley to a means to an end. The end being of course ease of portability and so that she will not be difficult for any staff to handle. So, instead of tackling the social and structural obstacles to people like her, the simple solution was to change her!!!

If this had not been Ashley, but some other girl, there would have been outrage and protests. But given that she’s not considered as a child but as a ‘pillow angel’, the interventions were not only justifiable but also apparently commendable. Inasmuch as parents should not abuse or violate their children, such medical action should not have gone ahead.

Who has represented Ashley all this time? Nobody it seems. We should be asking ourselves why this happened. Why have the ethical boards that agreed with such a provision that is for all intents and purposes, a violation of her body and her right as a human being, accepted that this was the only sensible choice for her?

And what does this say about the value we give to people with impairments? Does it not indicate that as long as we behave or are manageable, we may just survive if we become children ... in every way?

I’m no longer that cute little boy in the picture. And although childhood was a fun time it was also the time when I knew that certain people wouldn’t accept that I was like any other boy. But that doesn’t mean that because of that the problems I face today are my doing and that it’s my fault for being born this way. But then, I think that I couldn’t choose what I look like but I can choose what I do with my life.

And people who must take decisions on others should never forget their responsibilities to protecting the rights of thei r people, especially if they are children. And their judgments should never be based on preconceptions or misguided good intentions.

If you've missed the story go to:
ASHLEY'S STORY

1 comments:

Ryn Tales said...

This is a great post. You said it way better than I did. Thanks for writing this.