Trembling and feeling cold as you walk pass a group of people that is staring at you? Be caution as you may just end up being upside down in a garbage bin, lying on the alley with blood all over yourself or even worse, being tied on the barbed wire fences with your clothes off. All those for just walking in front of them and doing nothing! More and more people are being educated but it is becoming more and more common to witness this kind of incident around us as the rate of hate crimes are getting higher. Some people are being targeted by being in a certain type of racial or religion group but generally, everyone is a target of hate crime as it is an offence that is based on prejudice upon the victim race, belief, sexual orientation or even gender. However, a group of people are always being forgotten; the disabled people. (Sherry.M, 2000) Unlike others, disabled people are actually easier to be targeted as victim of hate crimes due to their physical incapability, mindset of our society towards the victim and the discrimination they receives from the society.
Physically impaired people are at a higher risk of being targeted as they have a certain limit of capability to protect him/her against the perpetrators. They are actually daring themselves by even walking in public never mind reaching the stage of communicating with others. (Gillion.D, 2009) Moreover, according to Carol Westlake, executive director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition (2009), "When people are feeling desperate and pressured in times like these ... you're going to try to find the most vulnerable person to victimize," To illustrate the issue above, we can imagine a person with walking problems that he would probably be unable to fight back once tipped off the wheelchair. He/she would be physically attacked and end up being injured and even robbed. (Hate Crime Dossier, 2010) Likewise, a person that requires assistance to perform intimate activities such as dressing or cleaning up is exposed to sexual harassment as he/she would be struggling to resist to the attack. (Sherry.M, 2000)
Besides that, our society and legal forces is shaping the criminal to target disabled people more as the crime are often punished lighter compared to others. The reason is simple: violence on disabled people is usually not questioned and their human rights are often ignored when discussed. (Cunneen, Fraser and Tomsen, 1997) To illustrate, most hate crimes on them are often been classified as burglary or robbery and in some cases, they are not categorized under hate crimes as requested by the victim family members. (Hate Crime Dossier, 2010) For example, most of the attacks on them that include loss of possession such as jewellery or money are said by police to be 'another theft or robbery case'. (Sherry.M, 2000) Even when the case is brought to a court, things might not be better as shown in a case where a disabled man was tortured and beaten to death just to be said 'the assaults were not serious' by the judge. (Sobsey.D, 1994)
Furthermore, the act of our society of separating the disabled people into another group due to our negative attitudes indirectly causes them to be extra vulnerable to hate crimes. This is common as most disabled people are left by their family members and is looked after by a carer. And unnoticeable, a lot case of disablism are related to the carer. For instance, in Dick Sobsey's book Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities (1994), a disabled man was killed and buried alive in a box by his carer. It is not surprising when disabled people with more carer are more vulnerable to hate crime. The discrimination by the society is indirectly luring crime on the disabled people by leaving them uncared.
In a nut shell, it is necessary to educate and eliminate the thinking in our society that disabled people are not worth saving. (Ertelt.S, 2009) There is a strong need for the legislationof hate crime in protecting disabled people to be enforced to avoid a huge amount of perpetrators escaping punishment while a greater amount of innocent disabled people are being targeted or being used as a 'toy'! After all, if nothing is on their side, one day all their right would be gone. Are they supposed to be treated this way? They are human being just like everyone else!