U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
- 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
- 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
- The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
“Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)
“The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)
“Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)
New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
- The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
- The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
- Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
“Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)
“New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)
“Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)
India passes nondiscrimination law securing rights for people with HIV
- The first of its kind in South Asia, the law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and public accommodations such as restaurants and calls for the establishment of an ombudsman to monitor violations.
- An estimated 2.1 million people live with HIV in India, with some 1 million currently receiving treatment.
- Some advocates for the positive community argued that the law does not go far enough to guarantee free treatment for the afflicted.
“Parliament clears landmark HIV Bill” (The Hindu | April 2017)
“What is HIV/AIDS Bill? All your questions answered” (The Indian Express | April 2017)
“India takes flawed first step towards ending HIV and Aids prejudice” (The Guardian | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Jayanta Dey/Reuters, via The Guardian)
Severe drug shortages leave Venezuelans with epilepsy and their families struggling
- With 85 of every 100 drugs missing, Venezuela faces an acute shortage of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat a range of otherwise manageable illnesses, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, HIV, and cancer.
- Families report traveling hundreds of miles to obtain necessary drugs, sourcing from abroad, and taking expired or inappropriate medication.
- President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage on a right-wing plot to overthrow him and announced new counteractive investments, although little progress has been seen.
“Epileptics struggle amid drug shortages in Venezuela” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Venezuela Is Falling Apart” (The Atlantic | May 2016)
“‘You name it, we can’t treat it.’” (Caracas Chronicles | March 2016)
“Falta de medicinas descompensa a los pacientes psiquiátricos” (El Universal | August 2014)
(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlings/Reuters)
The Growing Workforce Inclusion of the U.S. Autism Community
Companies like EY, Microsoft, and HP Enterprises have begun launching new neurodiversity initiatives at their firms, with a particular focus on recruiting people on the autism spectrum. The new outreach is welcome by advocates for the autism community, which faces a 58% unemployment rate despite having skills in high demand by employers in the knowledge economy. The Atlantic features an overview of industry efforts at inclusion, including innovation in recruiting, training, and management processes to ensure the successful identification and integration of people on the spectrum into organizations.
“Why Some Companies Are Trying to Hire More People on the Autism Spectrum” (The Atlantic | December 2016)
“Work in progress: An inside look at autism’s job boom” (Spectrum | July 2016)
“Changing Employers’ Perceptions, One Autistic Worker at a Time” (Inc. | May 2015)
(Image Credit: via The Atlantic)
Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.
Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube
The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.
VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.
“Punished Twice” (VICE News)
“Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
“Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)
Failing Students with Disabilities in Texas
An extensive multi-part series by The Houston Chronicle has revealed the devious tactics the Texas Education Agency and school administrators have deployed to reduce the number of students with disabilities their schools serve, masking an alarming decrease in support beneath the glean of “improved pedagogy” and “early intervention.” An arbitrary, unscientific 8.5% benchmark was set across the state for the percentage of students taught in special education classes, which necessitated a dramatic and at times aggressive reduction in the number of students evaluated and identified as in need of special education. From stories of families trapped in bureaucratic labyrinths to data on the disproportionate negative effect on English-language learners, the Chronicle series investigates the broken system responsible for the education of children with disabilities and the political struggle to right the listing ship.
“Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of kids out of special ed” (The Houston Chronicle)
(Image Credit: Marie D. De Jesús/The Houston Chronicle)