Archive for December 3rd, 2008|Daily archive page

Able Rapists, Disabled Victim

In Ableism and Law, Disability on December 3, 2008 at 10:37 pm

The police described the crime as gruesome and indicated that the perpetrators showed no sign of remorse. The victim ia now a young woman of 16, but she had been raped repeatedly, over a period of years, since she was much younger by her own grandfather and three of her uncles. All four men were convicted in a Korean Court, earlier this year in one of the worst cases of child sexual abuse on record.  

Judge Oh Jun-keun handed down his sentence to shocked court room. All four men were given suspended sentences. In explaining the sentence, the judge expressed sympathy for the “able” men who been caregivers for this “disabled” child, and suggested suspended sentences were in order so that they could continue to provide care for her. Again, it appears that disabled equals devalued.

Perhaps the one positive aspect of this story is that the Korean public has been outraged by these sentences. Tens of thousands have registered their protest and are calling for impeachment of the judge. Prosecutors are attempting to appeal the sentence. 

To read more about this story, see 

Korean Outrage and

Thousands Protest Rapists Probation!

To register your opinion on whether suspended sentences are appropriate, see 

Suspended Sentences Poll

Killing people with disabilities as a lesser crime

In Ableism, Ableism Ethics and Governance and its intersection with Disability Ethics, Disability, Ethics, Law and public policy on December 3, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Is the killing of someone with a significant disability a lesser crime than killing someone considered to be fully able? “Mercy” Killing, euthanasia, compassionate homicide, and altruistic homicide are all terms that have been used to describe the killing of of one human being by another in order to  end suffering.  Thus they are considered justifiable or even heroic. Canada has considered a compassionate homicide law and Germany currently has a euthanasia or “mercy” killing law that limits the sentence of a convicted individual to five years if the motivation was to end suffering. 

Critics, however, suggest that such laws serve as the ultimate vehicle of ableism, by effectively making it a less serious crime for those considered to be able to kill those considered to have serious disabilities.  To try to answer this question, one might think of whether “mercy” killing or compassionate homicide might be extended to people without disabilities. Would society be willing to consider the killing of a homeless person to be motivated by compassion? Might a police officer who shot a criminal to death rather than make that individual suffer through disgrace and imprisonment be considered to have committed a mercy killing? Would an individual who kills an able bodied man, who asks to end his unhappy life, be considered compassionate?

Two recent mercy-killing trials in Germany and China, help provide answers. A German court ruled that the killing of Bernd Juergen Brandes could not be considered a mercy killing, even though he asked to be killed to end his miserable life, because he did not have a disability or illness. While a Chinese court freed a mother who killed her disabled daughter, who never asked to be killed because the daughter was “a “psychological burden.” 

These and other cases suggest that compassionate homicide simply makes killing people with disabilities into a less serious crime.