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Cafe Roasted for ‘Appalling’ Sign Mocking Disability Abuse

7 March 2019 at 5:18 pm
Luke Michael
Social media backlash over a cafe sign with a joke about abusing a woman in a wheelchair has sparked calls for action on the high rates of domestic violence experienced by women with disability.

Luke Michael | 7 March 2019 at 5:18 pm


Cafe Roasted for ‘Appalling’ Sign Mocking Disability Abuse
7 March 2019 at 5:18 pm

Social media backlash over a cafe sign with a joke about abusing a woman in a wheelchair has sparked calls for action on the high rates of domestic violence experienced by women with disability.

Melbourne cafe Seddon Deadly Sins put a chalkboard outside the shop on Wednesday with the message: “My girlfriend broke up with me, so I stole her wheelchair… guess who came crawling back.”

The cafe received backlash after posting a photo of the board on its Facebook page, which was soon picked up by prominent feminist commentator Clementine Ford, who called the sign “absolutely appalling and totally ignorant”.

She slammed the cafe for originally telling Facebook critics it didn’t believe in censorship and that it was just a “silly pun”.

“This is explicitly a joke about domestic violence, and it targets a demographic that experiences violence at significantly higher rates… women with intellectual disabilities are 90 per cent more likely to be subjected to sexual abuse,” Ford said on Facebook.

The Seddon Deadly Sins Cafe deleted their post but as yet have failed to post an apology or acknowledgement of how…

Posted by Clementine Ford on Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The cafe later deleted the post and co-owner Chris Gooden issued an apology on social media, admitting he made the mistake of making light of an issue he had “not considered was a brutal reality for some people”.

“[Former Greens MP] Colleen Hartland shared a report with me that highlighted domestic violence against people with disabilities. I’m ashamed that it took this for me to learn about this abuse,” the post said.

“I apologise for my ignorance and any offence that it has caused. Regardless of the original intent, I should have known better.”  

Today I made the mistake of making light of something that I had not considered was a brutal reality for some people….

Posted by Seddon Deadly Sins Cafe on Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The saga has led disability advocates to call for more action to be taken to address domestic violence against women with disability.

Dr Meg Clement-Couzner, a senior policy officer at People with Disability Australia, said she was really disappointed to see these kinds of comments, particularly while Australia was on the verge of a royal commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability.

“We know that women with disability are more likely to experience domestic and family violence than non-disabled women, and this is nothing to joke or laugh at,” Clement-Couzner told Pro Bono News.

“Our community’s focus must be on preventing these appalling rates of violence, not poking fun at people with disability who experience abuse.”

Women with disability are estimated to be 37 per cent more at risk of domestic violence than their peers.

In New South Wales alone, 43 per cent of the women who experienced personal violence in 2011 were estimated to have a disability or long-term health condition.

“It’s time to change these statistics, and make sure that violence against people with disability is never a laughing matter,” Clement-Couzner said.

“Our royal commission must include domestic and family violence, and look at how gender impacts on the experience of abuse and neglect.”

Youth Disability Advocacy Service released a statement on its Facebook page condemning the cafe.

The group said considering women with disabilities experienced some of the highest rates of domestic violence in Australia, this wasn’t just ignorant but completely unacceptable.

“To some people these jokes and comments can seem harmless but research shows they are actually at the root of domestic violence,” the post said.

“As a society, we can prevent this by building a culture of respect, where there’s no room for gender and disability inequality, discrimination or marginalisation. This is why YDAS believes it’s so important to call out these ‘jokes’.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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