Disability and violence

Acts of violence such as rape, harassment and physical aggression can have serious and lasting consequences that endanger survivors' lives. Such acts can include permanent impairment, death or a whole range of physical, psychosocial and mental health problems that negatively affect survivors' self-respect and quality of life and expose them to the risk of further abuse. These consequences can result in a vicious circle of violence and ill-treatment, as survivors may be rejected by their families, excluded and stigmatised by society, or even arrested, placed in detention and punished and sometimes even subjected to further violence because they sought protection, assistance or access to justice.

According to the World Bank and WHO, 15% of the world’s population has a disability and these individuals are frequently reported to be at increased risk of violence. Adults and children with disabilities are at a higher risk of violence than non-disabled adults and children, and those with mental illnesses could be particularly vulnerable.

It is important to raise awareness about violence, exploitation and abuse against people with disabilities to support the survivors, to prevent further acts of violence and to advocate for safety and justice. This is supported by article 16 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This key list highlights resources to raise awareness about violence against people with disabilities, gender-based violence and violence against children disabilities. We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org.

Selected resources

Gender-based violence

"As if we weren’t human" : discrimination and violence against women with disabilities in northern Uganda

BARRIGA, Shantha Rau KWON, Soo-Ryun
August 2010

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After 20 years of displacement and war in northern Uganda, this research report presents information about the situation of women who acquired their disabilities due to the war or who already had disabilities before the war. The report presents interviews from women with disabilities, their family members, international agencies and NGOs, and analyses their responses given the context that Uganda is a signatory to international treaties, such as the CRPD. The report concludes by making recommendations to the government of Uganda

A health handbook for women with disabilities

MAXWELL, Jane,
WATTS BELSER, Julia,
DAVID, Darlena
February 2007

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This book deals with practical advice on health care for women with disabilities. It has been developed in partnership with health care professionals and disabled women in over 42 countries. It covers the key issues of disability in the community; accessible health care; mental health; sexual health; family planning; and child birth. The book is written in a practical and accessible style, suitable for anyone with an interest in disability, social development and women's health issues. In particular, the book offers a valuable insight into 'real-life' personal experiences of disabled women

Abuse of women with disabilities : toward an empowerment perspective

FOSTER, Kenneth,
SANDEL, Mark
March 2010

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"Abuse of women with disabilities is a significant societal problem of which practitioners, service providers, and other professionals must be aware, respond to, and work to alleviate. Practitioners in most settings will encounter client systems impacted by disability, and many of their clients may be victims of abuse. Primary objectives of this paper are (1) to summarize issues and problems relevant to abuse of women with disabilities (2) to describe some of the empowering, proactive attitudes and behaviours of victim-survivors and their support networks, and (3) to further emphasize the need for practitioners to give primacy to helping such clients empower themselves to (re)take and maintain charge of their lives"
Sexuality and Disability, Vol 28, No 3

Access to services for women with disabilities who experienced violence

MANDL, Sabine
et al
October 2014

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This final short report summary encompasses the main findings of the Daphne III project “Access to Specialised Victim Support Services for Women with Disabilities who have experienced Violence.” The project aimed to assess the range of different experiences of violence against disabled women and their use of support structures. In addition specialised victim support services were interviewed about their experiences and capabilities in terms of counselling and accommodating disabled women. The project focused on three components: (1) Assessing the legal and policy framework (2) Generating extensive empirical data by surveying disabled or Deaf women (focus group discussions, in-depth-interviews) and service providers (online survey, interviews with staff members) and (3) Developing good practice examples and recommendations. For each component national reports and an associated comparative report was prepared, identifying the most prominent issues including the commonalities and differences between the four countries issues.

 

Note: the main findings of the projects (including the final short report, recommendations for service providers and a brochure for disabled women) are available to access in easy language, sign language and audio files from the following link http://women-disabilities-violence.humanrights.at/publications

An assessment of the factors of risk and vulnerability of women and men with disabilities to sexual and gender-based violence

HADI, Melinda,
MUTONI, Sophia
February 2012

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This report presents the findings of a situational assessment that explored the risk factors and vulnerabilities of women and men with disabilities to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and highlights the complexity of addressing SGBV, sexuality, and the stigma and discrimination that is part of the daily reality for persons with disabilities. Recommendations are provided for various stakeholder groups
SD/ RS 05

Comprehensive responses to gender based violence in low-resource settings : lessons learned from implementation

KEESBURY, Jill,
ASKEW, Ian
June 2010

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"This document reviews the findings, lessons learned, and promising practices in the provision of comprehensive SGBV services in sub-Saharan Africa. It draws on the data generated by the network partners to identify core issues in the provision of quality, comprehensive care for survivors of SGBV. These findings are intended to serve as a resource for programmers and policymakers throughout the region, and contribute to the emerging evidence-base on such program strategies"

Disabled women and domestic violence : making the links|An interim report for the women’ s aid federation of England

HAGUE, Gill,
THIARA, Ravi K.,
MAGOWAN, Pauline
October 2007

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This interim report presents a research project which explores disabled women’s experiences of domestic violence and investigates existing service provision available to them. It is "based on two national surveys, one of domestic violence organisations and one of disabled people’s organisations. Specialist facilities and accessible services were in short supply in both sectors. One recurrent issue was lack of secure on-going funding, which held many organisations back from developing their services as fully and inclusively they might wish. The provision of appropriate training, and improved liaison between the two sectors, would help to provide a better service for disabled women experiencing abuse"

Document on violence against women with disabilities

THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES (INWWD)
October 2010

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This paper presents information about violence against women with disabilities. It defines disability and gender-based violence, highlights why women with disabilities are targets of violence, and provides recommendations to stakeholders to ensure the rights of women with disabilities against violence. This paper is useful to anyone interested violence against women with disabilities
Discussion group on violence
4 October 2010

Family violence against women with disabilities

DISABLED WOMEN’S NETWORK (DAWN) ONTARIO

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This factsheet provides information about family violence against women with disabilities. It highlights the different form of violence and abuse that may be committed against disabled women and various supports available. This resource is useful to anyone interested in family violence against women with disabilities

Forging new collaborations : a guide for rape crisis, domestic violence, and disability organizations

SMITH, Nancy,
HARRELL, Sandra
April 2011

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"This report is based upon Vera’s work with and observations of those collaborations from 2006 through 2010, as well as in-depth interviews with representatives from 10 of the groups and an extensive literature review on effective collaboration. It is designed for policy makers, practitioners, and first-responders interested in using collaboration to address violence against people with disabilities. It offers concrete recommendations for how to build effective collaboration between victim services and disability organizations, practical strategies for overcoming common obstacles, and steps to begin the collaboration process"
Note: Available in both pdf and word format

Forgotten sisters : a report on violence against women with disabilities|An overview of its nature, scope, causes and consequences

ORTOLEVA, Stephanie,
LEWIS, Hope
August 2012

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This report focuses upon prevalence and pervasiveness of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It "reviews available information on the forms, causes and consequences of violence against women when both gender and disability collide to exacerbate that violence; examines the impact of the multiple and intersecting dimensions of women’s lives and; their impact on violence against women with disabilities. The Report outlines the international and regional legal framework, highlighting relevant provisions and interpretations. Finally, the Report examines the extent to which States have met their due diligence obligations (setting forth a few country-specific case studies) highlights some best practices, discusses significant gaps in the research and makes recommendations for future action"
Paper series no 104-2012

Information kit : violence means death of the soul

RADTKE, Dinah
et al
2000

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This practical toolkit is written by women with disabilities with the aim to empower disabled women so that they gain awareness of their humanity and of their rights and regain or gain their self-respect. It describes situations of violence and legislative situations in specific European countries. It also provides instruments for action and resources, international documents and documents of NGOs. It represents an important document for organisations and individuals that deal with abuse. It is also available on CD-ROM

Submission to the United Nations thematic study on violence against women with disabilities

FROHMADER, Carolyn
December 2011

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"In mid June 2011, at its 17th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution to accelerate efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women. The Resolution called for a study to be conducted on the issue of violence against women and girls and disabilities, with the report of the study to be presented to the 20th session of the Human Rights Council in 2012. WWDA's Submission to the preparation phase of the UN Analytical Study on Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities, provides an overview of the legislation, regulatory frameworks, policy, administrative procedures, services and support available within Australia to prevent and address violence against women and girls with disabilities. It provides detailed information under the following themes: data and statistics; legislation and policies; prevention and protection; prosecution and punishment, and recovery, rehabilitation and social integration"

Thematic study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the issue of violence against women and girls and disability

OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (UNHCHR)
2011

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"The present study is submitted pursuant to paragraph 11 of Human Rights Council resolution 17/11. It examines the causes and manifestations of violence against women and girls with disabilities. The study provides an analysis of national legislation, policies and programmes for the protection and prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities. It highlights the remaining challenges in addressing the root causes of violence against women and girls with disabilities and incorporating women and girls with disabilities into gender-based violence programmes. The study concludes with recommendations on legislative, administrative, policy and programmatic measures to address violence against women and girls with disabilities, emphasising the need for a holistic approach aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls with disability; promoting their autonomy and addressing specific risk factors that expose them to violence"
A/HRC/20/5

Triple jeopardy : gender-based violence and human rights violations experienced by women with disabilities in Cambodia

ASTBURY, Jil,
WALJI, Fareen
January 2013

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This paper presents the findings of a "participatory research project, developed collaboratively between Australian and Cambodian partners, (that) investigated prevalence and experiences of gender-based violence of women with disabilities in comparison to women without disabilities; assessed the extent to which existing policies and programs include or address women with disabilities; and explored how women with disabilities are supported or denied access to existing programs"
AusAID Research Working Paper 1

Violence affects everyone

UNICEF PACIFIC,
THE FIJI ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF
2011

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This video features two perspectives of members from the Deaf community in Fiji about violence against women and girls. The issue of violence is defined and examples of support services are provided. This video is useful for anyone interested in violence issues in Fiji

Violence against women with disabilities

THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES (INWD)
March 2011

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"The aim of this paper is to educate people about the violence experienced by women with disabilities, to make recommendations about what can be done by a variety of stakeholders to end violence against women with disabilities, to motivate agencies dealing with violence against women to include prevention of violence against women with disabilities in their work, and to empower women with disabilities to protect themselves against violence"
Barbara Faye Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities

Violence and abuse against women with disabilities in Malawi

HOEM KVAM, Marit,
HELLUM BRAATHEN, Stine
November 2006

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This is a case study of violence and sexual abuse towards women with disabilities in Malawi. It is based on in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. This work examines the childhood and adult experiences of these women, and asserts that discrimination, stigma and vulnerability is worse for adult women.It claims that improvements to access and education will lead to empowerment, thus improving the overall quality of life that women with disabilities can enjoy. This work would be useful for anyone with an interest in human/ women's rights and disability

Vulnerabilities for abuse among women with disabilities

NOSEK, Margaret
et al
2001

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"Research findings reveal that women with disabilities experience rates of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that are comparable to, if not greater than, women without disabilities. Disability specialists propose that women with disabilities experience specific vulnerabilities to abuse. The question in the present study was, ‘What types of abuse experienced by women with physical disabilities are directly related to their disability?’ Of the 504 women with disabilities who responded to a questionnaire assessing sexuality and relationships, 181 of the women completed open-ended questions about abuse. Using qualitative techniques, we analysed their responses and identified disability-specific types of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse"
Sexuality and Disability, Vol. 19, No. 3, 2001

We're women too!

FROHMADER, Carolyn
July 2008

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This report discusses violence against women with disabilities in Australia. It begins by providing the background and context of the situation and the structure of the submission. It then outlines a brief overview of violence against women with disabilities and the key practical strategies to end and prevent violence against people with disabilities. This report is useful to anyone interested in violence against women with disabilities

What works to prevent violence against women with disabilities : a global programme to prevent violence against women and girls

VAN DER HEIJDEN, Ingrid
2014

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This report presents key findings on the evidence from research studies on violence against women with disabilities (WWD) and evidence from interventions to prevent violence.  Despite the greater vulnerability of WWD to gender-based violence (GBV), this report recognises that more research and innovation is needed to develop effective responses, including the identification of risk factors, especially in low-middle income settings. It notes the absence of publications on GBV against WWD, the lack of rigour and demonstrable effectiveness of interventions so far and presents key lessons learned and conclusions. This resource is useful for anyone interested in prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities

Violence against children with disabilities

Child protection psychosocial training manual

MEUWLY, Michelle,
HEINIGER, Jean-pierre,
O’CONNELL, Ruth
Eds
2008

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This manual "has been developed for use in the field in order to train animators who work with children and other child protection programme staff...The modules in this manual have been grouped according to the following 3 categories: 1. Facilitating a training, 2. Basic concepts for intervention, 3. Animator’s competencies. Each module is laid out under the following headings: What is it? Why is it useful? How can I use it?"

Out from the shadows : sexual violence against children with disabilities

ELLERY, Francis,
LANSDOWNE, Gerison,
CSÁKY, Corinna
2011

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This document is an advocacy report on sexual violence against children with disabilities. It is based on evidence generated from a literature review and primary research in four African countries. Adults with disabilities who had been abused as children were interviewed, as well as carers, lawyers, judges, police, social workers, teachers and members of disabled people's organisations. The report concludes with a set of recommendations, developed in consultation with children, young people and professionals working globally on this issue

Violence against children with disabilities : legislation, policies and programmes in the EU

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY FORUM (EDF)
December 2015

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This report "outlines relevant international and European standards and reviews national legislation and policies addressing violence against children with disabilities. The report also explores the extent and different causes, settings and forms of such violence, and presents measures and initiatives to prevent it”

Available in easy-read version from the web link provided

Violence against disabled children|UN Secretary General's report on violence against children thematic group on violence against disabled children : findings and recommendations

GROCE, Nora
2005

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This report sets out findings and recommendations determined by the the Thematic Group on Violence Against Disabled Children. The larger aim of this resource is to identify how violence against disabled children can be best addressed in society. This work would be useful for anyone with an interest in child abuse issues, and disability and development

Violence against Ethiopian children : the stories and perspectives of children

BOERSMA, Marieke
January 2009

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Based on research conducted between April 2007 and February 2008, this thesis collates information gathered from earlier research showing that there is a threat of violence in the life of every child in Ethiopia. Children with a disability are more vulnerable to violence than their non-disabled peers; although the current literature provides an overview about the situation in which children with disabilities live, little is known about violence against children with disabilities in Ethiopia. In this paper, the author compiles stories of Ethiopian children with disabilities told from their own perspectives and analyses why they are more vulnerable to violence than their non-disabled peers

Violence against people with disabilities

Contextual factors around the sexual abuse of people with disability in East Africa

WADDELL, Mary Ann
May 2015

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This literature review on the issue of sexual violence against people in East Africa aims to identify applied research. It contains a synthesis of the knowledge contained in the best selected research, reading notes and an annotated bibliography. The synthesis provides an objective summary of the of the state of the knowledge concerning the sexual abuse of people with disabilities in East Africa

 

Note: report is available in both word and pdf formats from links above

Disabled people's experiences of targeted violence and hostility

HOONG SIN, Chih
et al
2009

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This report presents "a two-phase project looking into disabled people’s experiences of targeted violence and hostility. The research has taken a broad approach to targeted violence and hostility against disabled people. The terminology around targeted violence and hostility is ill-defined, and terms such as abuse and harassment are often used interchangeably. In this report we have used ‘targeted violence and hostility’ as an encompassing term to include incidents involving verbal, physical, sexual and emotional violence, harassment and abuse that is directed towards disabled people"
Research report 21

HIV and AIDS knowledge, attitude, practices and accessibility study

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL (HI)
August 2007

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This report concerns HIV and AIDS preventative activities targeting people with disabilities in Kenya. Specifically, the report gathers information concerning the knowledge, attitude and practices among people with disabilities; and qualitative and quantitative data including 618 questionnaires conducted in Nairobi and Mobassa. The report findings advise on the development of policy on HIV and AIDS for people with disabilities in Kenya

IDA submission for the joint general comment/recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on harmful practices

INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY ALLIANCE (IDA)
December 2011

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This report presents harmful practices that violate the rights of women and children with disabilities and details the standards protecting against harmful practices in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It concludes with recommendations from IDA

Like a death sentence : abuses against persons with mental disabilities in Ghana

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
2012

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"Focusing on the southern parts of the country, this report examines the experiences of persons with mental disabilities in Ghana in the three main environments in which they receive care: the broader community, the country’s three public psychiatric hospitals, and residential prayer camps...Human Rights Watch found that persons with mental disabilities in Ghana often experience a range of human rights abuses in the prayer camps and hospitals that Human Rights Watch researchers visited. These patients are ostensibly sent to these institutions by their family members, police, or their communities for help. Abuses are taking place despite the fact that Ghana has ratified a number of international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was ratified in July 2012. These abuses include denial of food and medicine, inadequate shelter, involuntary medical treatment, and physical abuse amounting to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment"
The report is available in pdf, easy to read and html formats

Overview of violence against persons with disabilities

FALUN GONG HUMAN RIGHTS WORKING GROUP
2001

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"This report contains just a sampling of cases of persecution against persons with disabilities who are Falun Dafa practitioners in China. These cases reflect the uncompromising courage, strength, resilience, and determination of these practitioners in holding strong to their beliefs. Due to space limitations, we are only able to present a small number of these tragic stories"

Violence and abuse towards persons with disabilities

AMICI DI RAOUL FOLLEREAU (AIFO)

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This website presents the workshop reports and presentations from the second part of an international workshop on "Going beyond the taboos in community-based rehabilitation (CBR)." The workshop focused on violence and abuse towards persons with disabilities and role of CBR in preventing them and supporting the victims. Links are provided to the workshop report and presentations in pdf format
"Going beyond the taboo areas in CBR" workshop, part 2
Agra, India
30 November 2012