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Courts Fail to Protect the Disabled

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Courts Fail to Protect the Disabled

gavel as used in courts

Photo: sxc.hu.

The case of two intellectually disabled women, who accused the same man for sexually abusing them, illustrates the limitations of our court system when it comes to protecting the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, RÚV reports.

Despite the testimony of five women who describe having been sexually abused by the same man, accounts of his wife’s attempts to influence the testimony of one of the intellectually disabled women who filed charges against him, and the evaluation of experts who were asked to verify their accounts, the State Prosecutor decided not to take the case to court. The man professed his innocence and that, in the prosecutor’s opinion, would likely weigh heavier that all the testimonies against him.

The two women spent time at the man’s home, where he and his wife operated a summer camp.

The prosecutor’s decision to halt the investigation is not the first criticized for bias against the disabled. The National Association of Intellectual Disabilities has criticizes procedures in legal cases involving the disabled, especially those who are mentally disabled, when they’ve been the victims of violence.

A recent resolution by the Association states:

“There are strong indications that people with intellectual disabilities who endure violence do not enjoy the protection of the court system to the same extent as those who are not disabled, since the system does not take their special circumstances into account.”

On RÚV TV last night, the mother of one of the disabled women who accused the man at the summer camp described her feelings:

“You become extremely angry, but you don’t know what to do with that anger. Who should you fight against if the court system can’t protect these powerless people better, although everything is in place to support their case?”

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