Remembering Muhammad Ali – Can you let the Ali in you shine?

By Rebecca Gebauer

 

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Last week the world mourned the loss of the “Greatest of All Time”, Muhammad Ali. Having grown up long after the great times of Ali as a boxer and generally being suspicious of superlatives being attributed to anyone, I observed the media coverage with some interest and surprise.

My memory of Ali is that of a man impacted by Parkinson’s disease who I merely remember lightening the Olympic Flame in Atlanta in 1996 and carrying the US flag at the Olympic Games in 2012. Additionally, as I was living in Germany at the time, even during those big events I did not get to see original interviews of Ali but only documentaries on him. Essentially, I had no idea why a boxer of the 1960s and 1970s was called “The Greatest of All Time”. Continue reading

Pakistan’s failure to protect Ahmadiyya citizens

Glasgow, Scotland: Global Minorities Alliance has called on Pakistan government to ensure the protection of Ahmadiyya Muslims who are routinely targeted because of their religious beliefs. Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in 1974 after the then government caved in to religious pressure by mainstream Muslims who consider Ahmadis as heretic.

Global Minorities Alliance has called on numerous levels for the protection of the most persecuted minority in Pakistan.

Attacks on the Ahmadis are sadly routine in Pakistan who are chased only because of their religious beliefs said GMA’s Cheif Executive, Mr Manassi Bernard. ‘The government of Pakistan has failed implement National Action Plan (NAP) to curb hate crimes when it comes to Ahmmidyya community who are subject to targeted killing’.

In the most recent killing of Dr Hameed Ahmad, a 63-year old homeopathic practitioner who was killed outside his home in Darul Salam Colony, Attock, by unknown assailants. According to reports, the deceased was returning home from his clinic after the midday prayer. When he arrived at the gate of his house unknown assailants approached him on a motorcycle and opened fire. One of the shots struck him in the head causing him to die on the spot. After the assault the attackers managed to make a swift getaway.

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Dr Hameed Ahmad

Dr Hameed Ahmad had been facing threats and intimidation for some time now on account of being an Ahmadi. Almost a year and half ago his clinic survived an attempted arson attack. Despite all this he remained committed to his work until the very end and was recognized by all who knew him as a decent and upright man. He is survived by two sons and three daughters.

Expressing his grief at this tragic murder, the spokesperson of Jama’at Ahmadiyya, Salim ud Din said:

“I am shocked and saddened at the news of Dr Hameed Ahmad’s murder. This is a pain that Jama’at Ahmadiyya has long had to get used to. Only recently on May 25, another Ahmadi, Mr Daud Ahmad, was killed in a similar targeted attack in Karachi. It is a cause of great concern to us that in the space of ten days, two innocent Ahmadis have been gunned down outside their homes. It seems that members of the community are again in the crosshairs of extremist groups. On the one hand the authorities speak of good governance, and on the other nothing is done to safeguard the rights of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Hate-speech against Ahmadis has become a matter of routine in the country and enables tragic events like this to take place. The National Action Plan (NAP) was meant to crackdown on hate-crimes but it seems that this isn’t the case when it comes to Ahmadis. I call on the authorities to apprehend Dr Hamid Ahmad’s killers  as quickly as possible and send out a clear message that attacks such as this will not be tolerated and dealt with in the harshest terms.

Source: Nazarat Umur Aama, Pakistan 

People with learning disabilities want to find love too

Chido Ndadzungira, The Open University

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play4smee/Flickr

This Valentine’s Day will once again see a celebration of love. Unfortunately for many people with learning disabilities, this is just a dream. Although they may want to be in a relationship, they are often faced with barriers and challenges that prevent them finding what many take for granted. But specialised dating agencies can help to provide the support they need to meet new people and find romance.

People with learning disabilities, like everyone else, have a need for affectionate and intimate relationships. Yet many people with learning disabilities don’t get to have this type of relationship because of a lack of social and practical support, and society’s negative and stereotypical attitudes. Although attitudes are changing, it is evident that some caregivers still hold these negative perceptions, which include the belief that people with learning disabilities are asexual or “childlike”. Not only do these beliefs hold people with learning disabilities back from relationships, they also infringe on their human right to privacy and a family life, as outlined in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

My research explores the views and experiences of women with learning disabilities on sexual relationships and as part of my PhD I gave them a platform to talk openly about this taboo subject. I interviewed 16 women with mild to moderate learning disabilities who were members of Stars in the Sky, a pioneering dating agency that you might recognise from the Channel 4’s Undateables. These women wanted to be in a relationship. As Monica told me:

… look how long I will be in my 50s and then 60s and I am thinking I don’t want to be in the same situation … being by myself as I become an old lady. I want somebody to settle down and spend the rest of my life with.

When Barbara was asked why she had joined up, she said:

… I want to join because I was looking for relationships … To meet people, not necessarily a boyfriend straight away but friends to begin with.

The social networks that many people take for granted are often restricted for people with learning disabilities and they find it hard to engage or access social activities where they can meet people and possibly form relationships. The challenge, however, is getting the right support. As Georgia, one participant in a 2014 study, said:

I think I do need a bit of support … And that’s to like, meet people … And that so yeah, gives me a bit of confidence to speak, and see if I can meet the right one, and could say to them, ‘well what d’you think about this … fella?’.

Protection from abuse

People with learning disabilities – both men and women – are vulnerable to sexual abuse and need protection from this. Monica, for example, said:

[I have] never ever experienced a proper relationship in my life. It’s just people taking advantage all my life yeah, and it’s not right.

But there should be a balance between protecting people from abuse and enabling them to get into relationships, otherwise people are denied their right to do so. To prevent abuse, people with learning disabilities should have access to sex and relationships education, and caregivers should be prepared to discuss issues on sex and relationships openly in a proactive, rather than reactive, way. This would equip people with the knowledge they need to enjoy relationships in a safe way. Not being open or only dealing with issues in a reactive way is more likely to leave people vulnerable to abuse.

Professionals and caregivers also inappropriately apply the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to some people with learning disabilities, especially those with severe learning disabilities. The act states that the capacity to consent to sexual relationships must be assumed unless proven otherwise and an unwise decision does not necessarily imply a lack of capacity. Research that reviewed cases on the capacity to consent to sexual activity highlighted failures in the implementation of the act and suggested a reframed capacity assessment informed by research into sexual decision making.

Dating agencies

Special dating agencies can enable people with learning disabilities to find relationships and broaden their social networks. The decade has seen a growth of friendship and dating groups for people with learning disabilities, including HeartVenture, Luv2meetU and matesndates. They match people interested in forming relationships and support them on their first date.

Stars in the Sky, one of the first to be set up, by two women with learning disabilities, is now unfortunately closing due to financial constraints. It also featured in The Undateables, and it is clearly evident from the series that support can enable people with learning disabilities to form relationships. And success is not only measured by a successful date but by the confidence that individuals gain by going on a date, too.

Samantha joined the dating agency because, she said:

I was struggling to find anyone on my own. And I want, I guess what every girl, woman would like to have partner or companion to share things with.

Jane’s reason for joining was “because I didn’t want to be single anymore. I hate being on my own and being miserable.”

Relationships have a positive impact on mental health and the well-being of people in general. This also goes for people with learning disabilities, and for it to happen their sexuality must be acknowledged. They need support to allow them the opportunity to form and develop relationships, and they should be empowered with the tools they need to consent to sexual relationships. Hopefully, if we get these things right, people with learning disabilities will be able to enjoy forming relationships in a safe environment, and fulfil their need to love and be loved.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.