Today, 1st March is Disability Day of Mourning. People across the world will be coming together in face to face and online vigils to remember and honour disabled people who have died by filicide, due to the direct actions or inaction of their families. This movement was started by disabled people and organisations such as Not Dead Yet and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and has now been observed annually for 10 years. Not only does filicide disproportionately affect disabled people, but when these cases happen they are often seen as lesser crimes than those done to abled people.
As you may know, this coincides with World Music Therapy day. Out of respect for the anyone taking part in events to commemorate Disability Day of Mourning, as well as the many disabled clients, families, practitioners and other professionals we work with, we have decided at Chiltern to delay our celebration of the work we do until 2nd March. We know this is not a perfect solution, but we wanted to show our commitment to listening to vulnerable voices and taking action where possible to prevent further harm to the disabled community by speaking over the important messages that may be shared on Disability Day of Mourning.
We hope that other music therapists and music therapy organisations around the world will take notice of how important this day is to the disability rights movement, and that we can come together to bring a more permanent solution to the clash of these two days. If you are a music therapist affiliated with a national music therapy body, we urge you to raise this issue so that we move World Music Therapy day so that it doesn't coincide with such an important day of remembrance and mourning.
Although a very difficult topic to read and talk about, it is important that we continue to share the names and experiences of disabled people who have died in this way to further prevent incidents like this happening. This website catalogues and remembers disabled people who have died by filicide in many countries around the world - take care while reading through these accounts, and make sure you talk to someone if you need to.
Written by Cléa Knight, Autism Coach on behalf of Chiltern
Article update 1st March 2023:
We are delighted to share the news that World Music Therapy has been moved:
The World Federation of Music Therapy has voted in favor of a World Music Therapy Week (WMTW), to take place from 10th to 15th April each year. During World Music Therapy Week, music therapists and supporters are encouraged to engage in activities that increase awareness of and advocacy for music therapy. World Music Therapy Week also serves to highlight the global connectedness of music therapy, which can be especially important for developing countries.
Awareness weeks are common throughout the world and provide opportunities for people to choose a day or days, within the week (or perhaps building up to the week), that they might engage in an advocacy activity. In moving from a day to a week the WFMT does not anticipate that it will be necessary for music therapists to engage in more tasks, or expend more time and energy, than we did for Music Therapy Day. Rather we believe the week will provide us with more flexibility to choose a day or days within the week that we might execute our tasks.
The process of choosing an international music therapy day, week, or month that works for universities and other relevant workplaces and does not coincide with other important awareness days or anniversaries, has been complex. We have worked hard to ensure that the dates we have chosen will not cause further harm. However, we recognise that there cannot be a perfect solution, and that in addition to complications we know of, there may be more that we have not uncovered. However, as a global organization, we have gathered a variety of international perspectives and it seems that holding Music Therapy Week from 10th – 15th April will provide a positive solution which does the least harm to our members. We have also chosen dates that we think will be easy to remember. We believe six days provides enough time/space for multiple reflections, collaborations, and/or events, and allows people to turn their awareness to other activities/causes on a particular day/s should they choose to.
Disability Day of Mourning
Music Therapy Week will replace World Music Therapy Day, previously held on the 1st of March.
The 1st of March continues as the Disability Day of Mourning. On this day, the World Federation of Music Therapy encourages music therapists to stand by their disabled colleagues and clients, to remember people with disabilities murdered by their families, and to reflect on ableist issues that exist within societies, and within our own profession.
We are deeply sorry for the harm that has been caused by the previous coinciding of World Music Therapy Day and the Disability Day of Mourning, and extremely grateful to the people who have engaged with us, helped us to listen and learn, and to find a new way forward.