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Rosie Harding

This chapter explores the concepts of equality and social justice for older people in the context of arguments for and against the need for a new Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. I interrogate the effectiveness of different theoretical approaches to equality (equality of resources, equality of recognition, equality of power and equality of condition) that could underpin arguments about the need for new international human rights protection for older people. In evaluating each of these ‘equality’ based approaches, I demonstrate why each falls short as a justification for a new Convention. In response to the limitations of an equality approach, I argue that we need to turn towards an understanding of social justice for older people, and suggest that a capabilities approach, building on the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, offers the most persuasive conceptual basis for a new Convention. I argue that the capabilities approach, which requires not only the discursive and rhetorical enunciation of rights but also their substantive realization, is the most effective way to understand and progress equality and social justice for older people.

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Rosie Harding and Ezgi Taşcıoğlu

In this chapter, we explore the issue of support for intellectually disabled people in developing intimate relationships within the constraints of the regulatory position set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Through analysis of empirical data from qualitative interviews with disabled people and health and social care professionals, we explore the interconnection of autonomy, vulnerability, empowerment and protection in this complex area. We argue that law and practice in this area needs to step back from focusing only on protectionist responses, which can exacerbate the problem. We propose, building on our empirical data, that we need instead to move towards discourses and practices that help support the autonomy of intellectually disabled people while recognising their vulnerability.