No Justice, No Compensation – By Grace E.


From: Women and Disability – An Issue. A Collection of writings by women with disabilities. This booklet was produced by the Melbourne based Women with Disabilities Feminist Collective in the late 1980’s. The exact publishing date is unknown. Copyright.


 

The moment a person becomes an accident victim, your life changes dramatically. Not only do you have to face the problems related to your injury, but you also endure doctors, solicitors and financial difficulties. No-one consults you with regard to your medical and legal procedures. It is accepted that you are a pawn in a legal and medical game.

Women are not as important in compensation claims. Women’s position within the social environment as mother or wife (any other role is not even considered) is not seen as imperative or important. Nor does society see women as joint contributors within the family structure.

The following are a few examples:

If you have lost your ability to support your child (children) due to injury and consequent withdrawal of financial support you feel redundant within society. Your loss of wage earning capacity and your dependence on others contribute to your feelings of inadequacy. You are further frustrated and angered by being robbed of the right to make your own decisions. The medical profession does nothing to reassure you.

At this stage, after a series of tests etc, it is presumed that you will not be returning to the work force for some time, if ever, because of your injuries. You are forced to become dependent on the family.

There is no consultation, no explanation, no problem “solved”. You are unable to maintain your independence. You are not kept informed, nor are you treated as a reasonable, intelligent person. Your disability is seen in terms of its cosmetic devaluation and your loss of marriage-ability. If you are incapacitated for work, but you still look okay you receive less compensation because you can still get a husband and bear children.

The inference is that men are the real providers and “take care” of women. Any frustration you may feel in regard to your inability to physically deal with a situation is disregarded as long as you are still attractive. If you are lesbian your “market value” is further decreased in terms of your not being marriage material.

Generally, you have to face humiliation by psychiatrists because your disability is regarded as being emotionally based and not physical. Whereupon men, being more “logical” than you, do not have to face as many psychiatrists.

As compensation claims stand even the traditional role of you as “wife and mother” is not seen as being a valuable contribution to the society. Your choice to fulfil whatever role you want is invalidated by the traditional male view of the position you should hold in our society. Those views are further substantiated by our legal system.

Until women are recognised as having a valid choice and seen as making a valuable contribution to our society, compensation as it stands is no compensation to women who incur disabilities.