Protect the Rights of People With Disabilities


Target: Veronika Skvortsova, Health Minister of Russia

Goal: Improve laws protecting people with disabilities from public discrimination and humiliation.

A woman was allegedly kicked out of a café in Russia because of her disability. Oksana Vodianova, who has cerebral palsy and autism, was forced to leave a cafe with her caretaker because the owner felt she was frightening customers. The act of mistreating people with disabilities is all too common in Russia, which has an estimated 9 percent of the population struggling with mental illness and very few laws protecting their basic human rights.

Vodianova was reportedly banging her head into a wall while waiting at a café when she was asked to leave. Allegedly, her caretaker was told to “go get treated and treat your child, then you can go out in public.” When her caretaker refused to remove Vodianova from the premises, guards came and threatened to detain and admit the two women into a psychiatric facility if she didn’t leave immediately.

The story has already gained traction and attention from the government and the public due to Vodianova being the younger sister of Natalia Vodianova, one of the faces of Calvin Klein. Hopefully the status of the supermodel will help bring attention to the situation of people with disabilities in Russia, but there are still thousands of people without family relations to help bring awareness to their situation.

Allowing people to act as though physical and mental disability is an easily-treated issue and those with it are unworthy of being in public places is not a good message to spread to the public. Awareness of the real struggle of disabilities and the challenges facing those who have them or love someone who do is a vital step in protecting the rights of people. Tell the Health Minister that laws for people with disabilities need to improve.


Dear Health Minister Skvortsova,

Oksana Vodianova was allegedly threatened to be admitted into a psychiatric facility when her and her caretaker didn’t want to leave a café. Vodianova was in the hands of a caretaker and was a threat to no one around her, yet was treated like her disability was an easily-cured ailment she needed to work on before entering public.

Autism and many other disorders cannot be simply treated by medication, and the perception that they can be needs to change. Vodianova should not be denied access to public places, especially if she is being supervised by someone who is taking responsibility for her well-being if she cannot.

Rights for those with disabilities need to improve, and understanding of their behavior should spread instead of fear. If people had known more about Vodianova and the struggles she was facing, their reactions might have been very different, and instead of fear she could have gotten aid. Give those with mental disabilities in Russia the rights they deserve.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Marc Falardeau

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