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A step backward in disability rights

This week the United States Senate failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, a treaty that forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. The 61 to 38 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to sign on to an international treaty, despite bi-partisan support. All 38 of those no votes were cast by Republicans.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide. Eighty percent are living in developing countries and more than 300,000 are women. Regardless of where they live, women with disabilities contend with the double discrimination of gender and ability status. Women with disabilities experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment than men with disabilities. It’s estimated that less than 1% of women with disabilities worldwide are literate. They face forced abortion and sterilization, and a disproportionate lack of access to health care. They are two to three times more likely to experience sexual violence than non-disabled women.