Legal capacity is the recognition of the human being as a holder of rights and agent under the law. It is an inherent right accorded to all people.
Throughout history, women, ethnic minorities and many other groups have been restricted in their legal capacity. But persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities remain the group whose legal capacity is most commonly denied in legal systems worldwide today. And while many of us are aware of the unacceptable situation faced by women or many minorities, we often ignore the plight of persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities. It is difficult to know their situation when their voices are silenced and replaced by substitute decision making schemes, such as guardianship or mental health laws that permit forced treatment.
The denial of legal capacity leads to deprivation of many fundamental rights, including the right to vote, the right to marry and found a family, sexual and reproductive rights, parental rights, the right to give consent medical treatment, and the right to liberty, among others.
Through the stories of sixteen persons who have experienced what it is like to be denied of legal capacity, the exhibition I decide=I am conveys a strong call for change. The exhibition will open on December 2 at Palais Wilson in Geneva, as part of the activities to celebrate the international day of persons with disabilities.
I decide=I am is the work of Bulgarian illustrator Nadezhda Georgieva, with texts by award-winning journalist and human rights activist Yana Buhrer Tavanier. The authors will be in Geneva for the opening of the exhibition.
The exhibition is created within the Next Step Program of the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNL).