‘Taking the p***’ – Disabled teen subjected to tirade of abuse on train for not wearing face mask

'Taking the p***' - Disabled teen subjected to tirade of abuse on train for not wearing face mask

A teenager was subjected to a tirade of verbal abuse after she briefly lifted her face covering on a train so her deafblind sister could read her lips.

Karolina Pakenaite, who has Usher syndrome, was travelling to Southport with her 16-year-old sister Saule and guide dog when they were confronted by another passenger.

Despite explaining that 24-year-old Ms Pakenaite’s condition meant she was both hard of hearing and visually impaired, the woman refused to accept their explanation.

Their ordeal was recorded on a mobile phone as they travelled on a Merseyrail train from Liverpool Central on July 16.

The woman can be heard in the two minute-long clip questioning whether Ms Pakenaite was really “deafblind” after she was able to respond to her comments.

“You’re taking the p***, you,” the woman tells them.

Ms Pakenaite’s younger sister later responds: “Legally she is deafblind. There’s a spectrum. Google it.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

After the passenger questioned why she had moved her mask, Ms Pakenaite’s sister said in a distressed tone: “So she could lip read me. What do you want?”

The woman goes on to say “deafblind my a***”, before another passenger intervenes.

The main symptoms of Usher syndrome are hearing loss and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, which causes night blindness and a loss of peripheral vision.

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Speaking after the incident, Ms Pakenaite said: “I can no longer stay silent about this as I keep experiencing attacks and hearing similar experiences from others too. It’s taking an effect on my mental health.

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“Not enough people are taking this pandemic seriously but this behaviour is never acceptable.

“Please, respect people individually, ask us, listen, discuss and I am always happy to hear ideas for alternative solutions, but harassment, name calling or any type of abuse or aggression will never be OK.”

About the author: Will Smith

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