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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Dip Lemons in Aspic

I've been filling in my DLA forms. DLA, you ask? It stands for Dreadfully Long and Arduous. Or is it Deadly, Lethal and Annoying?

Actually, it stands for Disability Living Allowance. DLA is notoriously difficult to qualify for, notoriously random in who qualifies for what level, and certainly vital for many of us folk disabled in one way or another to live.

The forms are 42 pages of hellish, intrusive questions, requiring detailed and personal answers and disclosures. For those of us who are applying predominantly on the basis of mental health problems, finding a whole series of questions very much directed to explore physical disabilities, is also off-putting and makes filling out the form even more difficult than it already is.

Many, many people find out that they may be entitled to DLA and phone up for the forms. Once the forms arrive, they are so overwhelmed that they remain unfilled in when on first application they are supposed to be returned within a month.

My current forms are a re-application as my previous entitlement is due to run out soon.

Filling them in is not only painstakingly slow and humiliating, it is also terribly depressing when you are forced to write in detail about every area of your life that you struggle with - shooting down any weird ideas you may have previously had about being a functioning human being...

I guess there does have to be a way to ensure that disability benefits go to genuine applicants, but I'm really not sure that DLA hell is the best way forward.

The Guardian ran a weekend feature yesterday on gang rape. It is a devastating and immensely disturbing article detailing the young ages of many victims and perpetrators of gang rape, and the social acceptance which many gang rapists experience, while the girls and women who are raped are vilified.

It is interesting to read different people's theories as to why boys rape girls - influenced by pornography, no older male role models to tell them to respect women, acceptability of rape by peers, their own persecution leading them to not care... Many theories, all interesting, all possible. As far as I know there is little information around about younger (12-17, say) male perpetrators of sexual violence, but it is either happening more and more, or people are being open about it now where they didn't feel able to previously.

Either way, violence against women and girls must stop.

The title of this entry, by the way, is what DLA could stand for, and points to my addiction to old cookery books, which all seem to feature innumerable foods in aspic...

Web Address of the Week Award goes to... (thanks Dooey)


Anonymous said...

Ive just had the pleasure of the dla forms, did you know you within your rights to ask for a copy of the forms youfilled in last time, they dont like it but theres nowt they can do