From Iceland — Women With Disabilities Object to Being Used As Scapegoats

Women With Disabilities Object to Being Used As Scapegoats

Published September 14, 2015

Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
Árni Freyr Haraldsson

Two groups of women with disabilities, Tabú and the women’s group within ÖBÍ (the Organisation of Disabled in Iceland), sent out a joint press release objecting to certain politicians using them and their plight as an excuse not to accept refugees to Iceland. They say that politicians haven’t put much emphasis on improving their lives, and they are themselves puzzled as to why these politicians suddenly care about them now.

Read the full press release below.

We’re very pleased with the reactions that refugees from Syria and other conflict zones have received in Iceland. We also celebrate the positive message that so many people have spread, that we are socially obliged to assist refugees.

We can’t however ignore certain voices, in particular from politicians, that say that Icelanders can’t accept any refugees, because there are groups within our own midst that have to live with human right violations on a daily basis, and that their needs must be met before we help others. It is certainly our reality as women with disabilities that our rights are violated and that we don’t have the same opportunities as nondisabled people.

However we declare that we are absolutely against this narrative. The authorities, in particular spokespeople of this point of view, have so far not put any emphasis on improving our quality of life, and have not shown any interest in protecting our rights. In light of that, it is completely nonsensical to find them now interested in our lives. It does not require any financial imagination to foresee that society can be run without breaking any social groups’ human rights.

In addition, our situation is not comparable to that of refugees. We aren’t being found dead in the back of lorries, or drowning in the Mediterranean. Likening our lives in this manner shows at best a complete lack of understanding both about our lives and those of refugees.

We heavily emphasise that violations of our human rights shouldn’t be used as a reason or an excuse for consciously deciding to violate other groups’ rights. We have no interest in being used as scapegoats for cowardly politicians.

We implore the government to accept refugees immediately, and to do so in a manner fitting their experience and with respect to their history. Furthermore, we encourage the government to put a special emphasis on helping fringe groups of refugees—for example those with disabilities, in particular women and children, that are particularly vulnerable to violence when in conflict zones and seeking refuge.

Ágústa Eir Guðnýjardóttir
Arndís Hrund Guðmarsdóttir
Arndís Lóa Magnúsdóttir
Embla Guðrúnar Ágústsdóttir
Freyja Haraldsdóttir
Guðbjörg Kristín Eiríksdóttir
Iva Marín Adrichem
Margrét Ýr Einarsdóttir
Pála Kristín Bergsveinsdóttir
Salóme Mist Kristjánsdóttir
Sigríður Jónsdóttir
Soffía Melsteð
Rán Birgisdóttir
Þorbera Fjölnisdóttir

See also:

Gov’t Yet To Take Refugee Decision, Protesters Call For Action

500 Refugees To Iceland Likely

Hundreds Assemble At Parliament Calling On Gov’t To Welcome Refugees

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