DEAF Women Included (DWI), a Non-Government Organization which promotes Sexual Reproductive Health Rights in women and girls with disabilities is working on developing a Working Group on Violence Against Women with Disabilities strategy.
By Patricia Mashiri
The initiative is aimed at ensuring a more systematic approach to strengthen the inclusion of the rights of women and girls with disabilities to access Gender Based Violence(GBV) services as well as ensuring that gender equality, empowerment of all women and girls, realization of their rights is attained.
This comes after the realization of the dilemma that women and girls with disabilities face in their everyday life.
Speaking during a Manual Development Program, Onai Hara, DWI Programs Manager said it was important for service providers to understand GBV in the disability community as well as its impact on women and girls with disabilities.
“In our work, we have realized that women and girls with disabilities face forms of violence which are rarely captured in the definitions and understandings of types of violence,” said Hara. “For instance, a young woman with a disability who is physically and emotionally abused by her family member because she depends on them to support her with personal care as well as changing her sanitary pads when menstruating. When she asks them to help her change the pad or when she spoils her clothes because they delayed in supporting her change the pad, she is shouted at and in some instances beaten.”
She added that there is urgent need to capture these incidences so that women and girls with disabilities do not remain at greater risk of GBV.
“It is significant to ensure that issues to do with disability sensitive budgets and reasonable accommodations, flexibility in planning for services and planning for direct support for survivors of violence with disabilities are taken seriously.”
Women and girls with disabilities encounter barriers to access education, health care, including sexual and reproductive health, information and services, and justice as well as civic and political participation.
Meanwhile, Agness Chindimba, DWI Director highlighted that it was critical to ensure that psycho social support, economic empowerment, health, rapid response, awareness, legal and justice among other issues are embraced.
She indicated it was vital to ensure to have accessible helplines which will allow PWDs to have alternative forms of communication which become critical to promote their independence especially when reporting cases of violence.
“Reporting violence is not always easy especially for women and girls with disabilities who depend on others for support so there is need for having police officers with disabilities so that it becomes easy for people with disabilities to explicitly explain their cases without force, threats, manipulation, deception or misrepresentation, “Chindimba said.