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#AbleismusTötet: Violence against people with disabilities

A heart with a knife through its middle.

What is #AbleismusTötet?

#AbleismusTötet is a project initiated by the German disability rights organization AbilityWatch e. V. to uncover all cases of violence against people with disabilities in German care homes. In April 2021, four disabled individuals were murdered in a facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, which spiked an uproar by the disability community, calling for action to change the conditions in those institutions. The media continued to frame those cases as “exceptions” or “single cases,” but never talked about the fact that people with disabilities are at a much higher risk of experiencing violence. As a consequence of these harmful narratives, a team of German activists and journalists worked together on this journalistic research project to uncover all the violence in those care facilities over the last ten years. 

Case example.

For several years, a dozen people with disabilities were abused by the head of a facility in Fischbachau and several nurses. The official court indictment stated “abuse and severe bodily harm in 107 cases.” All perpetrators were convicted, except for one, who was cooperative. The head of the facility, for instance, got a two-year suspended sentence and a three-year ban for working in his profession. What was special about this case was that the official institution that monitors all the nursing homes in a state inspected the facility several times due to anonymous tips they got, but they were never able to determine a violation. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote of a lead that indicates that the head of the facility was warned about the inspections of his facility. In addition, there was a possible second case in the same facility in which three deaths that were previously classified as accidents have now been reopened. One of these deaths was called a stroke, but they found the person suffered a broken larynx.

Why did we do it?

We worked on this project to show that people with disabilities are, in fact, affected by violence a lot more often than people without disabilities, especially because those institutions are a huge risk factor and the breeding ground for violence. Scientific studies have proven this many times before, but by providing you with all of these “single cases,” our project clearly proves that, in total, violence against people with disabilities is anything else but an exception. As a consequence of our journalistic findings, AbilityWatch e. V., in cooperation with other disability rights organizations, put together measures for the government to act upon in order to protect people with disabilities from violence. Additionally, #AbleismusTötet also provides a list of places people who experience violence can find help and support at. 

Learn more about the project: www.ableismus.de

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