There is place for everyone

‘Assistance, work and independence’

‘We aren’t  2nd hand citizens!’

Last May, Joao Rodriguez – a 95% physically restricted and wheelchair dependent quadriplegic from Figueira da Foz – was happy his brother could bring him to Lisbon, to attend the nationwide demonstration of disabled people, demanding a raise in the budget for the Support Centres for Independent Living. Some protesters only send their shoes, as they were too physically impaired to personally attend the march in Lisbon.

Eduardo Jorge – quadriplegic, bedridden since age 28 and living in a nursing home – requires continuous care for 24 hours a day. He owns a house and wants to be cared for at home, but doubts if he will get there the  24/7 support, he desperately needs. He demonstrated last week outside Parliament in his bed.

Support Centres for Independent Living (CAVI) is a state-funded pilot project providing ambulatory assistance to disabled people older than 16 years, who are at least 60% physically impaired.

The intention of the government is to subsidize each centre with 1,4 million euros for a period of 3 years, by which the centre has to support 10 to 50 persons – 70% of them with assistance up to 40 hours a week and 30% for more than 40 hours ( to a maximum of 24 hours per day).

Far too little’, says Diana Santos, president of the Centre for Independent Living, who organized the demonstration in May.
‘At least 5 million is needed for each centre, especially if you want to help 50 people properly.’

In addition to a greater autonomy, pressure groups demand more jobs and better accessibility of public buildings and spaces.
Although Parliament already in 2004 adopted a law, obliging companies to employ a minimal number of disabled personnel – 5% in public institutions and 1% in private enterprises – in practice these numbers are far from being met. Unemployment among physically impaired people even increased by 24% between 2011 and 2017.

The Trade Union Association of Portuguese Judges (ASJP) declared in an open letter to the Minister of Justice this year, that at least 55 courts of law are not accessible for persons with reduced mobility and 74 more have architectural hurdles. There is a lack of specific facilities like parking lots, ramps for wheelchairs, adapted elevators and lavatories.
‘This really has to change, not only because it is legally required but also because of dignity, equality, and solidarity.’

BOAS FESTAS                            HAPPY HOLIDAYS              (pic Público/Sapo) 




Zé is dood                                                  Zé is dead
stond op de App                                       the App said
dinsdag                                                      on Tuesday
om half twee                                             at half past one

Zo trots                                                      So proud
op fiere dochters                                      of brave daughters
in New York                                               in New York
en Amsterdam                                           and Amsterdam

Zielsgelukkig                                              Crazy
met zijn Tina                                              about his Tina
en de katten                                               and the cats
om haar heen                                             around her

Alles op zijn scooter                                  Everything by scooter
door de stad                                               through town
met wijn en kaas                                        with wine and cheese
en soms zijn vrouw                                    and his wife sometime

Het huisje                                                   The little shed
in de tuin                                                    in the garden
voor ons 4                                                  to the 4 of us
een paleis                                                   a palace

Angola toen                                                Angola then
Kaap Verde straks                                     Cape Verde later
nu                                                                 not
niet meer                                                    anymore

Querido Zé                                                 Dear Zé
we misten je al                                          already missing
voordat                                                       before
we je kenden                                             knowing you


Sex without consent is rape’ – Istanbul Convention, 2011

Violence against women is a crime and a shame for the country’
– Rosa Monteiro, Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality

Although in Portugal verbal sexual harassment is a crime – with penalties varying from a fine of up to 120 euros to a year in prison – violence against women is increasing.

In the first ten months of this year, already 24 women have been killed by their (ex) partners or close relatives. Four more than in 2017.

‘As long as our society maintains its patriarchal and male chauvinist features, aggression against women is legitimized’, says Elisabeth Brasil of the Assassinated Women’s Observatory (OMA), accusing the government of not providing the necessary support to the victims of domestic violence.

The legal system doesn’t seem to be very woman-friendly either and courts often continue to disclaim the perpetrators and hold the victims accountable. Only one-third of the convicts for sexual crimes – rape, sexual coercion, and abuse – end up in prison, while most of them walk free with a suspended prison sentence.

Conceição Cunha, professor of Criminal Law at Porto’s Catholic University, also has the impression that condemnation to imprisonment is low for sex crimes. Lawyer Leonore Valente Monteiro isn’t surprised at all about the low number of convictions, especially ‘if the abuse doesn’t leave physical marks.’

In the meantime, the government becomes convinced that the legislation on sexual crimes needs to be reviewed in the light of the Istanbul Convention, ratified by Portugal in 2013. This Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence states very clear in article 36, that ‘a sexual act without voluntary consent is a crime.’

But not only the Portuguese legislation is inadequate on women abuse, maintaining a culture of blaming the victim and perpetuate impunity. Amnesty International shows in their report ‘Right to be free from rape’, that the majority of the European countries continue to acknowledge rape only if there is proof of physical violence or coercion. Merely 8 of the 31 member states define rape based on the ‘lack of consent’, as defined in the Istanbul declaration.

Bom fim de semana
                Enjoy the weekend                 (pic SAPO/LUSA)