Monday, March 31, 2008

Disabled Demonstration

I know it's less fun than yesterday's post, but, well things are not always romantic in Paris... Hence this demonstration that took place last Saturday (see more photos in this little slideshow). Several thousands of disabled people marched from République to the Opéra to ask for better living conditions. This implies more money from the Government (they are granted 628 euros/month which isn't a big difference compared to what somebody with no income is guarantied: 448 euros/month). But above all the handicapped don't receive the same amount of respect. An American friend once asked me "Do you hide all your handicapped people?" That says a lot...


  1. Your yellows, your reds, their determined faces, and the directions of their pace and your perspective. A thrilling photo to go with a good story.

  2. I agree Petrea. I'm sorry the story is not a happy one, but the depth of field, colours and determination are striking in this shot Eric.

    I remember pushing my mother around Paris in a wheelchair and being so frustrated with the cars parked over the few ramps in the sidewalks and the number of motorcycles (ahem Eric) parked in the way as well.

  3. I hope they'll get what they are asking for. Thank you for always let us know about the latest news in Paris.
    BTW, I just read on the papers that a plane was sent from France to the French Guiana to be ready in case Ingrid Betancourt is set free because there are rumours she might be released soon. I reaaly hope so.

  4. oh ok: Congrats Petrea!!!

    Michael, didn't you say you were going to Spain by the end of this month?

  5. Barcelona on Wednesday Monica...I'll have to fore go Caïpirinhas for Sangria I'm afraid.

  6. Monica, that's good news.
    "Here's the latest" I could find on Google about it.

    To those of you who live in Paris: are there laws governing the employment of disabled people? Are there no jobs for them? Must they be on the dole?

  7. Striking photo Eric, and the comment is very telling.

  8. Your favorite brat is back guys! ;)
    (To host foreigners friends is a full-time job, even more when you make tourism with them!)

    Colorful picture, I like it. The claim is totally justified to me, I mean it's impossible to afford your familly needs when you can't work and earn 600 per's a shame.

    Monica I tried a bar yesterday called "la favela chic", totally your kind of place I guess! Dozen of sort of Caipi were served there and salsa...

    Michael if I had seen your comment about the Caipi invitation earlier, for sure I would have answered it!! So I'm waiting for an other one... ;)

    Jeff, I'm in. I mean, I'll be here for the Picnic (it will just depend of my exams...)

  9. This is an amazing photo, and very thought provoking. It has just occurred to me that I don't think I have ever - EVER - seen a handicapped person out and about in France. How can that be?!

  10. Michael how exciting! Barcelona is so full of life, it's perfect fair to be into Sangria once you get there, I would too!

    Guille, what a coincidence, I've been hosting a cousin who lives in Germany and her friend from Spain these last week. I had to go everywhere in Rio with them. Yesterday we were at a bar and I tried a new caipvodka: pineapple. Not the best one, I must admit, not as nearly delicious as kiwi.
    I just got back from the beach with them, although it was a little bit cold so we just hanged there for a little while.

    As for Favela Chic, I almost went there last year. I wasn't sure it was nice, but if you recommend it, then next time I'll definetely go.
    It stays in rue Fabourg du Temple, near place de La République, n'est ce pas?

  11. I hope these people get the fairness they deserve. In the UK i think the laws are much improved but still the disabled are rightly asking for more, better access, better financial help. Finding jobs is sometimes hard for them i think, but there is supposed to be no discrimination against applicants for jobs.

    Michael poor old you huh. Only Sangria.

    Wheeeeee! Petrea. lol.

    Can it really be true that handicapped and disabled people are not seen out and about? Please tell us more about it. I find it unbelievable. What do you think, Guille?

  12. I did notice last time I was there that there were no handicapped people nor any changes in the environment to aid them. We do have the Americans with Disabilities Act here, which benefitted her enormously as she was battling Parkinson's. Stores made access available, transportation made changes, she was able to get around in a wheelchair rather well.
    Let's ope aris embraces the disabled. Changing all those historic buildings will be a challenge, but then we might actually see someone in a wheelchair there.

  13. I have often thought of the disabled when I have climbed all those stairs coming in or out of a Metro, and wonder how they get around. It must be extremely difficult in a city with so much public transportation.

  14. A demonstration?
    So it's back to business as usual, then!


  15. That's something you don't see here in this tiny island.

    Having a singapore sling anytime soon? LOL..

  16. I was there Saturday - just happened to get off the Metro there for a short walk along the canal. It was moving to see all of those handicap people fill the square. David

  17. What a sad story...I hope that your government will give them something that will make living conditions easier for them...

  18. enjoy your post its interesting to see things that go on in other parts of the world - John Raines

  19. Now that it has been brought up, I too have wondered where all the handicapped people are in Paris. I must give a hand to American public transportation where the buses have special stairs when needed and the drivers tip the buses over a bit for the elderly to be able step on the stairs. They must help the people on with their wheelchairs and then strap them into their seats.
    I hope the demonstration brings awareness to the French public.
    Hooray for Petra!

  20. Yeah, we're not perfect here in the US, but at least there are laws that public buildings have to be made accessible and public transportation has to be accessible as well. So do national parks, etc.--things paid for with taxpayer money. People need to get to their jobs, stores, etc. and live normal lives.

  21. As social photography should be, telling a story, in this case highlighting an overlooked group of people in some societies. Think the UK has improved, but still has a long way to go.

    The out of focus background, really emphasises the subject and the vivid colours of the movement.As always superb.

  22. “Thank you” for bringing this serious topic to our attention, Eric. I had no idea. I wonder how far away this reality must be for the millions of tourists who visit Paris each year (myself included)? You picture is quite thoughtful, but I am especially moved by your video. I hope these brave people get what they deserve (and what is fair).

    Yeah Petrea!

  23. Definitely informative to say the least. The word "handicap" in and of itself is charged with many negative connotations. I think "consideration" legislation is not a lot to ask for. Perhaps, the USA having had a "handicapped" president (Not Dubya...FDR)got into the American consciousness. I don't know. It does seem that it's time to move into the new century and address the needs of many. Another provocative shot, Eric.

  24. Oh yes that reminds me; I didn't see any handicapped people when I was in Paris last wheelchairs, nothing. It was weird. In Singapore, you see them everywhere (some begging outside metro stations or in food courts peddling tissue packs). Their conditions here aren't any better, either.

    And just a suggestion, your title could have been more appropriate if you had used "Demonstration of the disabled" instead. :)

  25. Let us not forget the friends and families of those who are in any way disadvantaged by either a mental or physical disability.

    Governments, even good and socially responsible ones, often rely on the time, resources and compassion of such people to make up for their own administrational and practical shortcomings. Indeed, it's not an exaggeration to say that if it were not for the loving and generous assistance of these (often unsung) supporters, the plight of the disabled would be even worse than it is now. Perhaps those politicians and bureaucrats who draft disability legislation and hand out pensions need to start thinking of us all as they would their own nearest and dearest...

  26. Lucio, that's an important statement. The conservatives in US believe that charity organizations should take care of the disabled, not the government. Ain't that sweet of them? When the American With Disabilities Act was being debated, all the conservatives could whine about was the cost to businesses and the government. I still hear it from builders and developers: "Do we really need to put in those handicapped parking spaces?"

    A civilized society takes care of its people. We used to care, but we are moving away from it and back to just letting people fade away in hidden places. It's one more thing to be ashamed of as an American. I certainly hope this country wakes up.

    You had a photo on this topic a couple years ago, Eric. Good job for returning to it.

  27. In Pasadena we've recently had these funny yellow things installed at all the street corners. They're lumpy; one would think they'd be good for getting traction in icy weather.

    I didn't know what they were for until my friend who works for the city told me they're for blind people who use canes to help them get around. These lumpy things indicate to the visually disabled that they're approaching an intersection. Cool, huh?

  28. Petrea, it's great you mentioned that because you may have noticed the same thing in Paris along the quais of the Metro. Little bumpy strips to let the blind know that they are approaching the edge of the quai.

    I know Eric has mentioned it before too, but on Line 14 of the Metro (the newest line), you have elevators/lifts (for the physically immobile), light signalisation (for the deaf) and vocal signalisation (for the blind).

  29. Jeff: Due to a combination of age and illness, both of my parents are now classed as "invalid pensioners" - which is not, I might, a misnomer. I, however, automatically read the word "invalid" as meaning both inVALID and INvalid: to me, my mother and father are INvalids, but to those who coldly oversee their fate from desks at the Department of Social Security, they are treated (more often than not) as simply inVALID.

    As you say, "a civilized society takes care of its people". Perhaps the reason why things are in such a parlous state with regard to social welfare and the noble sentiment "for the good of all" is that some of us (all present company excluded, of course) have forgotten that a civilized society IS its people, and not some feel-good slogan that can be bandied about without a care for what it really means.

    Petrea: I was in a lift today and noticed a panel covered in tiny lumps, which I quickly realized was a braille guide to the building's floors and occupants. It made me wonder why there aren't similar panels on such things as the ticket vending machines at (our) train stations and on (our) trams - which could prove tricky if you are not a local.

  30. It is not just Paris that doesn't have many people with disabilities going out. It is often the case that most people in wheel chairs and crutches only go out to busy places when they have too.

    In Britain things are getting a lot better now with new buildings having to have access for wheel chairs and so on.

    A shame though that it took us so long to begin to meet their needs.

  31. ughh. do they do this every year?
    it saddens me to think that disabled people have to march down the road just to ask what they need... :[[

    (ei who's 20 yrs younger here? 'cause i think i'm the only one.. heheh..)

  32. Qwaudzkhi
    most of us are 30+ years wise here... I m forty-one years old.
    Guille is the only one who is in her early 20s

  33. But above all the handicapped don't receive the same amount of respect. Couldn't agree more.

    You could generally say that living in Paris with any kind of orthopaedic disability is very difficult if not practically impossible for many. Take the metro, for instance, with all the stairs, loooooooooooong hallways, etc. I love the metro, but let's face it, it's a contact sport.

  34. Tomate
    you are funny!
    If you think the Metro is a contact sports activity how would you describe the Tube in London? War?

  35. I wanted to answer to Petrea's question earlier (8th comment about laws in France dealing with disabled people and employment) but I felt it a bit too hard in English. Well, I am not as fluent in English as Guille, or Eric, of course!! After a good night, I am trying again! So, here it is (and sorry by advance for mistakes in language I probably often do ;)

    Since 1987, french companies must (according to a french Act) employ at least 6% of disabled people regarding to the total number of their employees. But the sanction, if they don't respect this requirement, was until recently so low that many of them (let's face it: most of them) prefered to pay a tax as a sanction (to the french government) instead of recruiting disabled people!:(
    Of course, that was not a good point for their living conditions (without a job, how decently and happy would we all live?). Recently (2005 or so), a new french Act called 'Loi pour l'égalité des chances' has made it more severe for companies which didn't respect yet the legal ratio and we can hope it will work better but it is not won yet, I am afraid.
    It is obvious that disabled people are victim of employment discriminations though it is clearly forbidden by several legal provisions. But, an individual is always less able than companies are, to sue to Courts because of the high costs this kind of diligence implies of course, in France as everywhere!

  36. I am always stunned by people who apologise for their English then go on to write a quite stunning comment - are you sure you're not British? lol.

  37. Good photojournalism! I visited Paris in February with a temporarily disabled person who used a walker (her own) and required a wheelchair for museums, etc. They usually had them, BUT try rolling a walker over the gravel in the Tuileries.. That was hard in a couple of other places, too, which meant that either one gives up, or has to walk a REEEALLLY long way around.(And forget the metro and most buses.) My friend missed l'Orangerie for this reason. May these picketers get what they want.

  38. Indeed, things DO need to get better for disabled people. Great post, Eric!

  39. I am 24, quwadzkhi. :)

    The comments here are really interesting to read. Here in Sweden, there has also been some debate about the disabled and their right to accessability when it comes to public transports, services (such as public libraries) etc., but not too much I'm afraid. Or not as much as one would perhaps wish. I think people in general just tend to forget about them as they aren't seen much in public ... and why aren't they? Precisely for the reason mentioned above; problems with accessability ... It is really frustrating when you think about it, as they have every right to be able to move about as anybody else.

  40. And not be discriminated when they apply for positions too, of course, as they now often are.

  41. Hehe, the headline for this post was quite funny as well! ;D

  42. One more comment: btw, Eric, those figures are interesting as well; I don't think the sum differs so much from what you get in Sweden, if you have no income (and it is low!).

  43. I loved clicking on this photo & seeing it bigger-it takes on a whole other dimension as far as what is clear & what isn't. Very cool to look at.

  44. Qwaudzkhi, I'm not that active on here, but I'm 22...

  45. Good morning everyone.

    Thank you, Corinne, for your answer. I agree with Lynn, it's amazing to read an apology for imperfect English then to go on and peruse such perfection.

    So it seems attempts have been made in all of our countries, and some intentions are good, yet the cheap-minded or prejudiced will always seek loopholes. I touted our system, but I'll bet a disabled person would be able to tell me where it's not working.

    Parisian royals of the early centuries had no regard for disabled people. I wouldn't want to see the Tuileries paved, but there must be a way to compromise so everyone can enjoy the garden and L'Orangerie.

  46. Hi All, its Manu !!!

    Smitha and I are back in the US and are missing Paris so very much. We had such an amazing time there, soaking up all the culture and sights it had to offer!

    We just wanted to thank everyone for their kind words, and especially Eric for taking the time to help me make this happen. He really helped me make this engagement as special as it was, and we had a Lovely time meeting him on saturday. Hopefully we can make a trip back very soon!!

    - Manu

  47. dear justine.. alexandra.. and rose..
    hi nice meeting you guys..!! mwauh!!

    i'm 17.. hehehe..

    and i also enjoy looking at eric's photos.. :]]
    i feel like i'm in france...

    though right now.. [i'm from the Philippines] it's 12:34 am..and i am sooo depressed..

    just seeing you and Smitha's picture.. i feel jealous.. why can't some guy do the same thing for me just like what you did to Smitha?

    You showed her how you love her... why can't the guys that i love and who so-called loves me but the truth is he was just playing with me...?? *sighs*

    my love story was a devastating.. i thought the guy loved me but he didn't... :[[[ it happened to me twice... :[[[[

    i just want to let this heavy feeling off my chest.. cause little tears are coming out of my eyes.. got to wipe these away before my dad sees me crying.. hehehe.

  48. Yeah...I'm 22 too...I just look...sophisticated you know? .. i kinda like hanging out here with you older dudes. Er.. cool. Man. (I so want to be 22 again, please let me? lol)

  49. Thank you, Manu, and congratulations to you both. Don't be a stranger!

  50. I'm 39.

    Jack Benny

  51. Ohhh Quaudzkhi... it happens to us all, that. You, me, Diana Princess of Wales. We're in good company. There are better ones out there don't worry. Like... Manu! You'll find one. :)

  52. MANU!!! Hello! :) Good news that you and Smitha made it home safe and sound. I saw that the cherry blossoms were in bloom in D.C., so pretty. But, not Paris. ;)

    I can only imagine how much you and Smitha miss being there. You will have the most wonderful story (about your engagement) to tell, in the years to come. Wishing you both the very best!

    Lynn, you are a r-i-o-t!!! LOL, Uhhh…I am 45 and sometimes I pretend that I am 25 to fit in with the other graduate students. It’s a daily struggle! It is good to laugh about it. ;)

  53. 22 Lynn? I thought you were 21. Anyway you look 20... [Did I say the right thing?!]

    Manu, you don't have to thank me, it was a real pleasure to greet you on PDP.

    I hope you can make it to Paris again soon (maybe for your honeymoon!)

    Have a happy life.

  54. Manu, nice to see that you enjoyed your travel and had good time. Once again: congratulations!

    Let's make an under 25 years old group...No way!!! I like the fact to talk with different people, from different countries, with different ages and different backgrounds. So Lynn, no need to lie ok? :)

    I was in the tube few minutes ago and thought about the fact that it was actually awful to be disabled in Paris...As Michael said, there is bumpy stripes in almost all the stations but that's all; there are some "impassable" ways in most of them because of the stairs or something else...

  55. Lie? Who's lying, Guille? You're as old as the man you feel. LOL ! My penultimate boyfriend was 27 so i'll go with that one then. Okay, busted. I'm 27 then. Pah! Rumbled.

    Eric you did indeed say the right thing... blush... sigh... i love it. You can say it again if you want to. We could be here some time...

  56. Jennifer i was a mature student at uni and they all welcomed me. It was so sweet. That was 12 years ago, i'm still in touch with some of them too. They invite me to parties sometimes oh sorry they er... text if i wanna hang out... yeah. Man. I don't go, I doubt i could dig their tunes, get down with the vibes, though one uni friend comes to stay occasionally from Greece.

  57. Hi Manu,
    I want to welcome you (on this post as well as on the other), and say congratulations. Thanks for sharing your romantic story! (Eric did a good job of telling it, don't you think?) All the best to you and Smitha. Keep us up to date!

  58. LYNN,
    you're absolutely right.. i know there are still better men out there.. i might find him in Paris! hehe..

    You people make me laugh! hehe


    thanks for making me smile..!!

    Bisous to everyone!!

  59. Yeah everyone except me, Quadzkhdksikd... no way. I have three sons 16, 19 and 21 and that's as far as i'm going. Er... i suppose i can't have 27 now can i? Doh. Dang. Man. Do we say Man or is it, like, so passe?

  60. LYNN
    oh you did make me smile.. hehe..
    at least this depression is easing up a little bit.. hehe..

    [got to go sleep. its 2:53 am here. hehehe]

    congrats dude! you and smitha have a blessed life together!!


  61. I have seen many disabled people struggling to get about in Paris so I really do sympathize with them. I also had a serious accident that forced me to walk with a cane for many months a few years ago and I went to Paris shortly after that and had a hard time with the narrow sidewalks[especially in the rain]having to step down or walk half off the sidewalk was hard for me.

    Many of the buildings are ancient and just cannot be updated for the use of the disabled. I remember going to a bathroom in one cafe and thinking.."mon Dieu how could a disabled or elderly person make it to the toilet"?? I also remember seeing many elderly people struggling with the stairs in the Metro and I felt sorry for them...but I live in a city also and I know the city is not often kind to it's elderly inhabitants. Sad...some sort of compromise is due.

  62. Quwadzkhi: Nice to meet you too! I think you started something (with the ages). ;)

    Manu: Nice to see you here, and as the others said: keep us updated/posted! :)

  63. And again, congrats to you and Smitha. Best wishes!!

  64. I'm glad you're smiling Quwaudzxhxuxhzhz. Life's too short. Best wishes for a happy day tomorrow.

  65. Quwadzkhi, nice to meet you as well... I hope you feel happier soon, you'll find a boy who really does love you, and when you do none of the others will even matter!

    Manu, glad to see that you and Smitha made it back safely. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with all of us!

  66. Lynn, follow Qwaudzkhi lead and go with "dude", I think it's what they use nowadays.
    Did I say they? I meant we, we use it all the time dude!

    Manu great to hear from you. Congrats again! I'm afraid you're gonna have to come to Paris every year now cause your fiance is probably in love with the city and won't settle for any other place anymore!

  67. The slideshow was very moving.

    Re:"Do you hide all your handicapped people?" Out of sight, out of mind. Thank God they were visible, if only on this one day.

  68. Alexandra: yeah , i did.. hehe.. i didn't think anyone would answer me .. hehe.. its nice that someone noticed me.. heheh..Bisou to you!
    Lynn: hehe.. i should make the best out of this life. Must not sulk in such problems.. thanks! :]
    Justine: hehehe mwauh!! i'm feelin happy now.. i just needed someone to talk to and chat..
    Manu: Manu! talk to me!!! hihi.. want to say again congratulations again!!! i told my mom about your story and she said you were such a sweet guy... because you really are a sweet guy and smitha's lucky to have you!!!

  69. We need better living conditions all over the world.

  70. My experience has been I see many people in Paris with béquilles who would use wheelchairs in the US.

    But I have a really lovely anecdote of something I saw that brings me to tears every time I think about it:

    I was coming home from work and was in the Gare du Nord transfer to the Line 2 at La Chapelle, where a long hallway leads to escalators and an elevator. There was a man in a wheelchair who had wanted to take the elevator but it was out of order. He looked so stunned and disappointed when he saw the sign and he sat there for a few minutes.

    And then along came this tall African man, just a commuter like any other...and carried the man in the wheelchair in his arms up to the street level!

    It was such a wonderful example of humanity and the kindness fo strangers.