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Showing posts from November, 2016

Hong Kong must ensure equal access to justice for the mentally disabled

A big public outcry erupted in Hong Kong recently over a case in which a charge of sexual assault against a former superintendent of the Bridge of Rehabilitation, a home for the mentally disabled, was dropped by the prosecution on the grounds that the victim – a 21-year-old woman with a mental age of eight – was unfit to give evidence due to post-traumatic stress.

There has been evidence that people with mental or intellectual disabilities are more likely to be subjected to sexual abuse and violence. And to get justice done, they often face more barriers than others.

Their disabilities may make it difficult for them to recall facts, describe what happened and communicate with others, and that does not include the huge psychological stress victims experience in such a situation. Others’ insensitivity, disbelief, stereotyping and dismissive attitudes are also hindering factors. In some instances, the defence takes advantage of this to challenge the credibility of the victim’s testimony.