4th Century BCE Anti-Stigma Campaign

consumer/survivor/ex-patient history recovery Dec 10, 2014

There have always been champions who have gone against the grain of the dominant culture and worked for justice-for-all. Recently I learned about Kautilya, also known as Chanakya. He was a teacher, philosopher and royal advisor and wrote one of the earliest laws against discriminatory practices and disrespectful language directed at those of us with disabilities.  Not surprisingly, there is speculation that Kautilya himself had a disability. Here is the law translated into English:

Among abusive expressions relating to the body, habits, learning, occupation, or nationalities, that of calling a deformed man by a name such as "the blind", "the lame," etc. shall be punished with a fine.  If the blind, the lame, etc. are insulted with such ironical expressions as "a man of beautiful eyes," the fine shall be higher.  Likewise when a person is taunted for leprosy, lunacy, impotency and the like. (Kautilya, 3.18; translation, Shamasastry, 1923, p. 236).