BELOIT - Those with disabilities who have lost their lives at the hands of family members or caregivers will be honored at a vigil at 7 p.m. on March 1 at Beloit College.
This type of murder is called filicide, and the student-led Beloit Cross-Disability Coalition will be hosting an event in honor of the international Disability Day of Mourning. Started by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, organizations from around the world host vigils to honor the dead.
Junior Alexis C. Kosik, president and public relations officer for the coalition, said this is the third time the college has hosted a vigil. However, it's the first time the event has been open to the public. She estimates people with disabilities are twice as likely as non-disabled people to be victims of violent crime. In 2017, Kosik said there were 142 documented cases of filicide that occurred worldwide, with many more that remain undocumented.
"We want to honor them, because they won't be honored otherwise," Kosik said.
The event will begin in the Beloit College Poetry Garden at the northwest corner of College Street and Bushnell Street. During the candlelight vigil, the coalition will be reading a list of the names of those who lost there lives. If attendees feel uncomfortable with that portion of the event, Kosik said they can head to the third floor of Pearsons around 8 p.m. for a conversation about filicide, caregivers and people with disabilities. She said attendees are also welcome to leave at any point where they feel uncomfortable.
She said many people aren't aware of the seriousness of this issue, because often it doesn't get the publicity it deserves. She said some people sympathize with the caregivers who murder people with disabilities.
"The murders often are seen as sympathy or mercy killings," Kosik said.
She said it seems as through parents who murder children without disabilities often face harsher crimes, and it's these kinds of double standards that the coalition is seeking to address. Kosik notes filicide also could be children murdering their elderly parents or grandparents.