Down Syndrome Groups Concerned by Reports of Jailed Pakistani Girl

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome Education International and the International Down Syndrome Coalition have joined together in shared concern over the fate of Rifta Masih, a young Pakistani girl reported to have Down syndrome who allegedly was jailed and faces life-threatening implications.

People with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are a vulnerable population. Although early intervention and inclusion in some nations has meant great gains for many, there are still people with intellectual disabilities who have difficulty processing information or fully understanding the consequences of their actions.

We hope and expect that people from all countries and cultures, including those in the United States, will take this into account in terms of how people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are handled in police- and security-related matters. We strongly encourage the Pakistani police to ensure the young girl’s safety and to allow family members and others who are known and trusted by the girl to stay with her to the extent that detention is necessary for her own protection.

It is very difficult for most people with intellectual disabilities to be taken out of their routine, and sometimes this may trigger agitated and uncontrollable behavior. We hope that this young girl will be able to return to the routine where she is safe and happy. We join others in urging restraint and compassion in this situation.

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