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Two new reports shed light on the institutionalisation of disabled people in Europe

Non-governmental organisations, Inclusion Europe and Lumos, have recently presented in the European Parliament their respective reports about the situation of people living in institutions and the role of the European Union in deinstitutionalisation and promoting community living in Europe.

Inclusion Europe’s report “Life after violence”

Inclusion Europe’s report “Life after violence. A study on how women with intellectual disabilities cope with violence they experienced in institutions”, was launched at an event held at the European Parliament ahead of  the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25). The reportreveals that most of the  violence experienced by women living  in institutions is structural and remains unseen.

The report, which is based on in-depth interviews with 10 women, also provides a number of recommendations, such as promoting inclusive education from an early age and most importantly ending the institutionalisation and segregation of women with intellectual disabilities. Given that living in institutions is still a reality for hundreds of thousands of people with intellectual disabilities, these institutions should have proactive strategies to combat all types of violence and undergo external evaluations by people with intellectual disabilities themselves.

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The report was presented at an event hosted by MEPs Christine Revault d’Allonnes Bonnefoy (S&D) and Lambert van Nistelrooij (EPP).

MEP Christine Revault d’Allonnes Bonnefoy commented: “I’m shocked by the terrifying figures and testimonies I have heard about through this report. Women with disabilities experience violence at higher rates, more frequently, for longer and are less likely to report it. Now it becomes public and there is hope for better combatting it with legislative means such as the Istanbul Convention, a binding international treaty on the fight against gender-based violence. Let’s work for it!”

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Read an interview with Elisabeta Moldovan on how she became a self-advocate: “I experienced a lot of abuse in institutions. I wanted to change this situation for others”

Read an interview with Elisabeta Moldovan on violence in institutions: “There were staff members who sexually abused residents”

Read the account of a woman who left an institution and became included in her community: “When people meet Julia now, they see someone who is awake and intensely enjoying life”

Structural Funds Watch’s report “Inclusion for all”

The report “Inclusion for all: achievements and challenges in using EU funds to support community living” was presented by Lumos during a recent event held in the European Parliament on November 26. It demonstrates that although over €2.7 billion of European Union funds have already been redirected away from harmful institutions such as orphanages, member States need to strengthen their action to transition from outdated care systems towards community-based living.

The report outlines to what extent 12 EU Member States have adopted strategies or action plans to close down institutions and highlights how European Union (EU) funds can drive change for its most discriminated  citizens. As a result, the EU has become a world leader in transforming systems of care and support for children, adults with disabilities and older people. However, although policy recommendations are progressively being translated into practice, it is clear that further support is needed to ensure that new services are designed and delivered so as to fully respect the rights of children as well as disabled or older people.

This report offers recommendations to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, Member States and civil society to successfully harness the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for community living.

Community Living for Europe: Structural Funds Watch (CLE: SFW) is an independent initiative guided by a Steering Committee comprised of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), advocating for implementation of the ESIF regulations. The steering group includes: the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (of which Autism-Europe belongs), the European Disability Forum, Age Platform Europe, the European Foundation Centre and Lumos Foundation.

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