CW: This article mentions ableism and rape.
The University of Sydney Disabilities Collective held a snap speak-out today outside Fisher Library in response to the A-frame erected yesterday on Eastern Avenue by the Sydney University Catholic Society and subsequent ableist rhetoric on social media.
Taking the stage outside Fisher Library, SRC Disabilities Officer Margot Beavon-Collin condemned the stunt as “disgusting” and delivered an impassioned speech lamenting the fact that “people who would have been on campus yesterday had to look at that sign and witness complete random strangers voting on the worth of their life.”
“Being talked down to by people insisting on using disabled people as objects and as political footballs for their own confected religious moral arguments is completely mind blowing,” she reflected.
“More and more disabled people, not just across this country but around the world are finding their voices. You dare come back to us and say to us that we don’t get it, that we are too naïve … We will come down on you like a ton of disabled bricks.”
After speaking, Beavon-Collin delivered a statement from Sarah Korte, the other SRC Disabilities Officer, denouncing the Catholic Society’s apology in which the Society characterised the A-frame as a prompt for academic discussion:
“Giving a voice to ableism is supporting ableism, my value as a person is not up for debate. My body is not a prop, or a vehicle to be used to propel an agenda. It is not a crippled statue to be held beside a fetus to be carefully observed and compared.”
“Anyone who thinks that our value should be debated, regardless of intentions, should be condemned for blatant ableism.”
Robin Eames, the preceding SRC Disabilities Officer, highlighted the significant structural obstacles that hinder the disabled community’s access to support and equal opportunities:
“The rates of violence and neglect in disability sectors are so important that there’s a Royal Commission being conducted into them, and what we know already is that 90% of women with intellectual disabilities will be raped in their lifetimes,” they said.
“If the Catholic Society cared about reproductive justice and was engaged with us on these issues they would know [that] we do have shared concerns and even those of us who are pro-choice, which is most disabled activists.”
Beavon-Collin closed the speak-out by paying tribute to and inviting disabled students, allies and members of the Usyd community to get involved in the Disabilities Collective & Caregivers Network:
“We don’t want your charity. We don’t want your pity. We want solidarity. We want to get to where we’re going together.”
The SRC Disabilities Collective is planning a forthcoming rally at a time to be confirmed.
The USyd Women’s Collective has called a snap rally tomorrow on 28 April at Eastern Avenue against anti-choice rhetoric in direct response to Sydney University Catholic Society.