My favourite wake up ritual (other than Opal’s hello kiss), is reading my BBC daily e-mail. This morning it did not disappoint. File this under; ‘Interesting stories about the blind’.
The South Korean Constitutional Court has ruled to uphold a law which states; All licensed masseurs in the country must be registered blind persons. The 7,100 members of the Korean Association of Masseurs led noisy protests leading to this victory, even jumping off bridges into the Han River which runs through Seoul. There are 200,000 unregistered masseurs who claimed that the law discriminates against them. The law to restrict masseurs to people who are blind, goes back to 1912 when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. The US military government abolished the practice in 1946, but it was reinstated in 1963. Non-registered (blind) masseurs can face heavy fines or imprisonment.
The most interesting part of the article was the statement released by the Korean Constitutional Court: “Massage is in effect the only occupation available for the visually handicapped and there is little alternative to guarantee earnings for those persons”. Welfare experts in the country say the law helps blind people make a living in Korea, but it makes employers in other fields less likely to hire the visually impaired, thus adding to workplace discrimination.
In the wake of the 100 jobs lost in Atlantic Canada which resulted from the CNIB axing its Caterplan (allegedly only 14 blind people are no longer being ‘Catered’ to), I thought this might inspire someone to organize a new industry or make work program for the blind. It sounds like reasonable employment for people who are blind to me…beats washing dishes at a cafeteria, assembling cardboard meals, or checking coats for drunks at the local Casino, eh?