Reflections on empathy: reinforced during my time at Essex

BY

During the first time I was at Essex, I was an LLM student in the field of European Community Law as a Jean Monnet Scholar of the European Union. I then returned for my PhD research studies as a Chevening Scholar of the UK Government. One of the great contributions of Essex to my personal development was the reinforcement of my sense of empathy to communicate with different cultures, since, Essex had an excellent community of different cultures. Eventually, my consciousness on the importance of empathy has been an impetus to concentrate upon the situation of people in the society. In this framework, currently, I am an attorney at law and continue my academic career with my studies on my PhD research on the rights of the disabled.

Humanity is the common denominator that unites us all. We need to unite in humanity in all aspects of life including the empathy we need to reflect regarding the disabled. Efforts to consider thoughts and feelings of each other are to help constructing well-developed societies. According to the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020[1], one in six people in the European Union has a disability[2] and increasing awareness on the rights of the disabled is an important aspect to deal with to cope with the problems which the disabled face in their daily lives today. In this framework, awareness and consciousness on the concept of disability together with rights of disability are essential to contribute to the life of societies. Disability is an issue having multi-lateral aspects as physiological, psychological, legal and sociological to be taken into consideration to address the needs of the disabled.

There is no strict definition of disability in the major international agreement on the issue which is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as “Convention”)[3]. Important provision to refer in this respect is “Article 1: Purpose” of the Convention. Article 1/II  reads as:  “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. So, although there is a flexibility to include different contents in terms of the concept, basically, the term includes “…long-term…” impairments. Furthermore, it may be underlined that there is a combination of “medical impairments” like “…mental…impairments…”  and “social barriers”. These “social barriers” are referred to as reasons for hindrance of “…full and effective participation in society…”.

Therefore, the context of disability is to be framed taking into consideration of medical and social factors. Regarding social factors, any prejudice in relation to the disabled may appear as a hindrance in terms of the disabled for their “full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. In this framework, projects to increase awareness and consciousness in societies on the disabled are necessary especially to tackle possible problems the disabled face in daily life. There is a specific provision of “Article 8: Awareness-raising” in the Convention which regulates state responsibility on the matter. Pursuant to Article 8/I/b, combating “…stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life” is an obligation for the state parties to the Convention in this parallel.

The willingness of us to contribute to the lives of the disabled may be highlighted as a prerequisite condition that is necessary to build strong societies on the earth in which we all live. As a concluding remark, in general, respect for each other and advocacy for solidarity about rights of each other may be marked as essential in terms of maturity in consciousness and awareness in societies.

[1] For the text of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, see  https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2010:0636:FIN:en:PDF
[2] p. 3.
[3] For the text of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Disabled, see https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html#Fulltext

 

 

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