Letters: 6 December 2015

Living independently and being included in the community

The right to live independently and be included in the community is guaranteed by Article 19 of the UN Convention Persons with Disability and protected under EU law, in particular through the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of disability (Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU) and the principle of integration of persons with disabilities (Article 26 of the Charter).

In his article “Independent Living Empowers People with Disabilites”, Dr Adolf D. Ratzka, Independent Living Institute Stockholm is quoted as saying: “Independent Living does not mean that we want to do everything by ourselves or that we do not need anybody or like to live in isolation. Independent Living means that we demand the same choices and control in our everyday lives that our non-disabled brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends take for granted. We want to grow up in our families, go to the neighbourhood school, use the same bus as our neighbours, work in jobs that are in line with our education and interests, and raise families of our own. We are profoundly ordinary people sharing the same need to feel included, recognized and loved.”

According to traditional thought, disabilities were impairments to be cured through medical intervention. The Independent Living Model sees the problem differently and understands disability as a construct of society.  In this model, the problem lies in the environment, not the individual. Though many people have physical, intellectual, or mental attributes that deviate from the ‘norm,’ disability is manifested in society through purposefully created and maintained physical, programmatic, and attitudinal barriers.

Living independently means exercising freedom of choice and control over decisions affecting one’s life with the same level of independence and interdependence within society on an equal basis with others. Consequently, article 19 refers to “living independently and being included in the community” as one right, where autonomy and inclusion are mutually reinforcing and jointly avoid segregation (quoted from the study developed under Human Rights Council).

Marthese Mugliette

President, Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability

The Church under attack

It is raining bombs in the house of the Lord! The first bombshell comes in the upcoming movie Spotlight which tells the true story of The Boston Globe journalists who uncovered multiple cover-ups by the Catholic Church of sexual abuse by its priests. 

“The newspaper set off a global wave of investigations that found similar patterns at dioceses around the world... victims and their advocates contend that abuse is ongoing” (Reuters, November 5).

The film has received rave reviews in the American media. A reviewer wrote that “it might be the best movie of the year”.

The second and third bombshells are two new books by Italian journalists that depict a Vatican plagued by greed, intrigue and corruption.

One of the books describes “the irregularities in the funding of canonization causes in the Roman Catholic Church; the purported diverting of funds intended for the poor in order to plug administrative deficits; and the lavish lifestyles of some cardinals.”

While the Catholic faithful donate their hard-earned cash, the “good shepherds” at the Vatican laugh behind their backs all the way to the bank! 

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s

Bus routes being stopped

As many have heard, new bus routes are being implemented, which means certain routes are going to be removed (without the public clearly knowing of it).

While on my way to school as usual I noticed a Malta Public Transport employee removing the ‘35’ and ‘36’ bus routes (Naxxar and Gharghur) notices from the road sign.

When I asked him why he was doing so he told me that these routes would no longer be in use. He was surprised when I told him that I need those very routes to get to school. While having this conversation at around 10:20am the 10:30am bus (35) did not stop at the bus stop and left me stranded.

I called Malta Public Transport but although they tried they could not help me. When I asked the gentlemen on the line if he knew when these routes were going to stop being used he simply told me they did not know... but they expected it to be around the end of the year. 

On Friday (December 4) I waited for bus 35 or 36. The 35 did not stop, although I chased and yelled after it. The 36, which was supposed to pass 15 minutes later, did not even show up. Does this mean that the routes have been stopped already? 

With the removal of the ‘35’ and ‘36’ routes the entire student body is going to have to depend on just three bus routes to get to school.

Anthea Fenech

Via email