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March 1st marks the Disability Day of Mourning, where the community recognises and memorialises the loss of disabled lives at the hands of parents and carers in acts of filicide.

The official register started in 2014, though tracing historical cases has been completed as far back as 1980. From March 1 2021 to March 1 2022, at least 56 lives were lost, seen here. Due to under or misdiagnosis these figures will never be accurate, and cause of death often gets labelled as other things (DV for example). Three were from Australia. The youngest was only 10 months old.

The dehumanisation of disability has the dangerous and fatal consequences of considering disabled people as less than human. Person first language (separating the person from their disability), the tragedy narrative (promoting fear and stigma of disability as something ‘other’ that requires changing), and non disabled organisations controlling the conversation from a parent/carer perspective, all ties in to how the world views disability and therefore, disabled people.

When people are separated from their disabled identity, and that identity is then demonised as a burden, and the experiences of the parent or carer is centred rather than those of the disabled person, it becomes an easy slope to fall down. It becomes understandable that these parents and carers did what they did; that they too were ‘victims’.

The Disability Day of Mourning began as a means to call attention to media representation of these cases, as all involved are commonly labelled as “victims of the system”, something that does not happen when non disabled children are murdered by their parents and carers. Since 1980, 54% of filicide victims recorded were Autistic.

Disabled lives matter. Every single one. We are not a burden. We are not a tragedy. Our deaths should be... and our murderers should be held just as accountable as they would be if we weren’t disabled.

DOD Statement: Quote
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