Friday, May 18, 2007

Inequities towards the mentally impaired

All modern societies have had gross inequities in their treatment of children with unusual mental impairments. Often such children do not get the medical care and the therapy they need. (... For example, muscle therapy for children with Down syndrome can make it possible for these children to negotiate their world in a way that promotes active learning). More, even, than people with many physical impairments, children with mental impairments have been shunned and stigmatised. Many of them have been relegated to institutions that make no effort to develop their potential. And they are persistently treated as if they have no right to occupy public space. In the congressional hearings prior to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), many examples of this shunning were cited. One case concerned children with Down syndrome who were denied admission to a zoo so as not to upset the chimpanzee.

(pp. 199-200, 'Frontiers of Justice' by Martha C. Nussbaum, from Oxford

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