Hate crime film will highlight disabled people’s stories


A documentary that highlights disabled people’s firsthand experiences of hate crime will be broadcast this week on primetime television.

The documentary Sticks and Stones will be aired as part of Channel 4’s First Cut strand, which showcases original documentaries by up-and-coming directors.

Hannah Murphy’s film features a string of interviews with disabled people from across Britain who have experienced disability hate crime.

One young disabled woman tells how she is too scared to go into her own garden or leave her house because of a campaign of harassment.

Paul and Janet Williams, from Leeds, describe how they have to avoid walking past the local takeaway shops and pubs because of the abuse they have received.

Ian Margerison, from Bradford, says he is too scared to leave his house because of thugs who bang on the door, throw eggs against his windows, spit at him and shout abuse.

And Keith Shortman, from London, tells how he was kicked and punched by a gang of boys and girls.

The documentary also includes an interview with the sister and son of Patricia Grainger, a disabled woman from Sheffield who was sexually assaulted, beaten, strangled and repeatedly stabbed 12 years ago in a possible disability hate crime. Her murderer has never been found.

Murphy said she had been determined to hear from disabled people themselves about their experiences of disability hate crime.

This followed the media interest in the death of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca after they were the victims of a sustained hate campaign by a local gang.

Murphy said she was “shocked” by what she heard from disabled people. “Many of the victims told me the insults, harassment, rejection, funny looks, kicks, punches, exploitation was something they had lived with all their lives.”

She found that the investigation, monitoring and prosecution of disability hate crime varied from area to area, as did the support offered to disabled people to report hate crimes.

She said several subjects had “repeatedly asked for help and nothing was done”, seemingly because of a lack of communication and co-operation between agencies.

But Murphy said it was the small disabled people’s organisations that were “the most effective and pro-active” at providing support and “making a real difference”, despite their funding struggles.

The film, narrated through verse written by the poet and artist Subhadassi, will be shown on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on Friday (5 March).

23 February 2010

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