12 November, 2013

Shocked and sickened!

Last night I was shocked to see a news report on Japanese TV that talked of the discovery of 1,699 disabled people who'd been abused in Japan in the last 6 months.

Here is an excerpt from this newspaper article:
The health ministry has confirmed that more than 1,500 disabled people were abused, most of them by relatives, in the six months through March this year.
Local governments nationwide received reports or were consulted over a total of 4,502 cases of allged abuse against disabled people in the six months after a law to prevent abuse of the disabled came into effect in October last year. Of this number, abuse was confirmed to have occurred in 1,524 cases involving 1,699 victims, according to the first such survey ever conducted by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
The survey found that more than 80 percent of the 1,524 cases involved abuse by relatives of the disabled people. Three victims died as a result of the abuse they suffered.
The TV report included more detailed information about one of the care homes that has been found guilty. They gave an example of a man in his 70s who'd come to live in the home after receiving a head injury 10 years ago. Since he'd been in the the home, it was recorded that he's had 70 injuries, three of which were broken bones. The report went on to quote care givers who said things like,
"We hit them to get them to finish their food faster. There were others waiting for it. It worked the first time, so we kept doing it." 
"He refused to get out of bed, so he was punched." 
"We all had our own threshold of acceptable violence." 
"Some patients were found to have been abused daily."
I felt sick! I know that in Japan these caregivers are frequently poorly paid and trained, and there is a high turn-over. But behaviour like this is abysmal. I find it hard to find the words to describe how evil it is to treat other human beings with such a lack of compassion and dignity.

I also know that this is a world-wide problem. I don't want to be judgmental, because I've worked a bit in this field and know it can be extremely frustrating and exhausting. Care givers endure a lot and suffer a lot of stress. BUT these people with disabilities often have no voice to complain. We need to be their advocates.

I'm glad that the laws have changed in Japan and this area is being exposed. I'm also glad to discover that Australia currently has a National project on abuse and neglect of People with Disability takes shape-5 August 2013.

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