Down Syndrome Organizations Express Concern Over Reports of Jailed Pakistani Girl

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 21, 2012) — 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.

About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public non-profit 501(c)(3)  dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy.  Formally established in 2009, the Foundation’s primary focus is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the US committed to research and medical care for people with the condition. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal.  The Foundation organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show – the single largest annual fundraiser benefitting people with Down syndrome.  Programmatically the Foundation organizes and funds many programs and conferences including the Dare to Play Football and Cheer Camps, Global Down Syndrome Educational Series, and Global Down Syndrome Multi-Language Resource Project.  The Foundation is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

About the National Down Syndrome Congress

Founded in 1973, the National Down Syndrome Congress is the country’s oldest organization for people with Down syndrome, their families, and the professionals who work with them.  A 501(c)(3) non-profit advocacy organization, the NDSC provides free technical support and information about issues related to Down syndrome throughout the lifespan, as well as on matters of public policy relating to disability rights.  Best known for its annual convention – the largest of its type in the world – the National Down Syndrome Congress is a grassroots organization recognized for its “family” feel, its “We’re More Alike than Different” public awareness campaign, and, its outreach to individuals from diverse backgrounds.

About the National Down Syndrome Society

The National Down Syndrome Society is a nonprofit organization with more than 350 affiliates nationwide representing the more than 400,000 Americans who have this genetic condition. NDSS is committed to being the national advocate for the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. We demonstrate this commitment through our advocacy and public awareness initiatives that benefit people with Down syndrome and their families.

About Down Syndrome Education International

Down Syndrome Education International is a leading international charity dedicated to raising levels of educational achievement among children with Down syndrome. DSE has been at the forefront of developmental and educational research and evidence-based services improving outcomes for children with Down syndrome for over 30 years.

About the International Down Syndrome Coalition

IDSC for Life is dedicated to serving individuals with Down syndrome from conception throughout their lives by supporting families who have been given a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and directing families to accurate and up-to-date information about Down syndrome. IDSC for Life extends heartfelt compassion, and hope and healing to parents who were pressured to terminate, and ended their pregnancy because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

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