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Helping those who need it most

In this issue, we shed light on the increasing discrimination towards people with disabilities

in Denmark and how one organisation's fight is trying to make effective change.

Photograph: iStock

Text: Sara R. Newell

On 30 August, the grassroots movement #enmillionstemmer (#OneMillionVoices) sent an appeal for help to the United Nations, the European Council, and Amnesty International.

The movement fights for fair justice for people with disabilities, and their main objective is to fight for better conditions for persons with disabilities and their families and fight against the violation of human rights of this, the largest minority group in Denmark.

The movement's appeal to the world is supported by several renowned Danish civil rights attorneys and professors, FOA (The Danish Trade Union for Public Employees), and Danske Handicaporganisationer (Disabled People's Organisations Denmark).

#enmillionstemmer currently has over 31.000 members and was established by a group of parents who had to fight to get assistance for their children with disabilities. The movement began due to political and municipal neglect of the management of disability services, the quality of which has seen a steady decline since a sizeable structural reform of the Danish public sector in 2007.

Since 2016, it has been possible for the public to view the quality of the management of disability services in their local municipality. This has been possible thanks to public access to information regarding several decisions for disability services that are appealed in each municipality. Many of these cases are overturned, which can be seen here:

Since this information became available in 2016, it has shown that the quality of the management of disability services continues to deteriorate.

Municipality management of disability services has reached such a low that rulings favour the citizen in approximately half of the disability cases that are appealed. For example, in 2020, in Odsherred municipality, rulings fell in favour of the citizen in 67% of appeals regarding decisions in children with disabilities. The same with 60% of appeals in the area of adults with disabilities.

Despite the seriousness of disability services and the subsequent significant ramifications for Denmark as a society and socio-economically, the area of disability services and policy remain under-prioritised, both politically and financially. An example of this was on 3 June 2021 when a majority of the Danish Parliament voted against incorporating the UN Disability Convention into Danish law.

In the autumn of 2020, #enmillionstemmer collected almost 500 testimonies from persons with disabilities and their families. This illustrated how every erroneous decision and ruling can have severe and long-term consequences for the person with a disability and their entire family.

The following are but a few examples of the collected testimonies:

"Since our son's case has been moved to the adult disability office, we have complained and appealed over 32 decisions made in our municipality. In the National Council of Appeal, we have won in 30 out of the 32 cases." - Parents of a young man with physical and mental disabilities

"When my severely disabled daughter turned 18, the municipality tried to send her to a residential home, despite her clear desire to continue living at our home. When the municipality did not succeed, they reduced her total vital assistance by 80%, WITHOUT justification."- Parents of a daughter with multiple disabilities

"The visitator (red. consultant or social worker who decides if the person can be granted assistance) came unannounced and went into my home along with the home care nurse. She went with me in the shower. Everything took place without an independent assessor, a family member or a support person. This took place without anyone having told me what was going to happen and without my consent. A stranger literally came in from the street and took a shower with me." - Adult with 18 different diagnoses who is a wheelchair user

Despite the movement's repeated inquiries to politicians and the Danish government, the extent and gravity of the conditions for people with disabilities continue to be ignored, with no real prospect for improvements. The current situation has reached a point that #enmillionstemmer has decided to appeal for help from international authorities, hoping that their voices will be heard.

We appeal to the international community to support us by following us on Social Media:

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