Vulnerable to Misinterpretation: Disabled People, 'Vulnerability' and the Fight for Legal Recognition

Date

2011-07

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Conference

Peer reviewed

No

Abstract

Hate crime is now an established term in the fields of racist and religious attacks and is acknowledged in the cultural proscription against attacks on Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women. Disabled people, as so often is the case, are late in being afforded statutory recognition in hate crime. This can be explained in terms of wider constructions of disability and more pernicious and muddled constructions of disabled people as categorically, “Vulnerable”. This construction has arguably weakened the impetus to introducing hate crime provisions and legal justice for disabled people. There is now ample evidence of hate crime being evident and pervasive in the lives of many disabled people (Higgins, 2006; Quarmby, 2008).

This paper will argue that the continued use of the term in criminal justice proceedings both perpetuates notions that disabled people are helpless and personally responsible for ‘their’ vulnerability, whilst ironically continuing to weaken legal protections for disabled people against such hate crimes and incidents. It will be argued that vulnerability is the product of poor community safeguards for disabled people and is better understood as a socio-political space rather than an inherent quality of an individual.

Description

Keywords

disability, Hate Crime

Citation

Roulstone, A. and Sadique, K. (2011) Vulnerable to Misinterpretation: Disabled People, 'Vulnerability' and the Fight for Legal Recognition (3-6 July 2011) British Society of Criminology Conference 'Economies and Insecurities of Crime and Justice', Northumbria University

Rights

Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice