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You're not being 'helpful' when you touch disabled women without asking

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I was on my way to a meeting in central London when a passerby saw me wheeling myself up a steep hill.

Assuming I was struggling, he decided to take it upon himself to come up behind me and start pushing my wheelchair without uttering a single world.

I was terrified. I thought I was being mugged and petrified of being pushed into danger. As someone who has a condition whose bones can break with a simple sneeze, the fear of a stranger with no wheelchair training having complete control over me was an experience I will never forget nor want repeated.

The thing is, that hill was a challenge I could have accomplished on my own in my own time. Yes it was somewhat strenuous but, in all honestly, a good excuse to miss the gym that day.

Although I’m sure the stranger’s intentions were good, my personal space and safety was violated. All I wanted him to do was ask whether I had needed help, and I am not the only disabled person who feels this way.

Dr Hannah Mason-Bish is a criminologist and director of the Centre for Gender Studies. She has over 15 years’ experience examining hate crime and when disability was included in hate crime policy back in 2003 she noticed there seemed to be little understanding of how disabled women experienced hostility.

To address this she set up the The Private Places, Public Spaces research project which invited women and non-binary people to share their experiences of unwanted touching and harassment.

She found that many women who took part in........

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