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Sexual Abuse of Persons with Disabilities - Research

ALEY, Rob
et al
November 2016

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Abstract
The aim of the research was to investigate the social, cultural and institutional factors which contribute to the high incidence of sexual abuse of persons with disabilities in East Africa and to identify interventions which could change detrimental attitudes, beliefs and practices which perpetuate this high incidence. The research is framed within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), particularly articles 12, 13 and 16.

The study used a qualitative participatory action research approach and worked with local partner organisations and Ugandan and Kenyan field level researchers to collect data. Survivors of sexual abuse were not interviewed but instead the research investigated the understandings, beliefs and practices of a range of service providers and key responders who are involved in the prevention of and response to sexual abuse against persons with disabilities in their communities. Groups consulted included police, teachers, health-care workers, government administrators, faith and community organisations and traditional leaders, as well as persons with disabilities and their parents. Participatory workshops were run with a reference group of people with disabilities (with a range of impairments and experiences) and relevant specialists at the initial stage and during the participatory analysis process. After initial orientation and training the field researchers undertook a total of 52 individual interviews and 9 focus group discussions with a range of stakeholders.

The overall findings show that social attitudes and understanding of disability and sexuality in general are strong influencing factors on the risks that persons with disability face in relation to sexual abuse. Participants reported a range of harmful attitudes and beliefs about disability and about the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. It is very common for cases of abuse to go unreported and to be dealt with at the family or community level, rather than being viewed as a serious criminal matter which should be taken to the formal authorities. Many barriers exist, especially at community level which mean abuse does not get reported. Lack of awareness and knowledge, stigma and exclusion and poverty were key drivers of continuing abuse and survivors of abuse seldom get proper support. Guidelines, training and clear procedures for good practice in the various professions were generally weak or absent. Key recommendations were generated for both community level interventions and in relation to policy and training at regional and national levels. The practical implementation of some recommendations was undertaken.

Sexual violence against women with disabilities in Ghana: Accounts of women with disabilities from Ashanti Region

OPOKU, Maxwell Peprah
et al
2016

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This exploratory study aimed to document the causes and consequences of sexual violence against women with disabilities in Mampong Municipality of Ashanti region in Ghana. The 41 participants, made up of women living with intellectual, visual and hearing disabilities, were interviewed using convenience and snowball sampling techniques

Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development (formerly Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal) Vol. 27, No.2, 2016

Human rights toolkit for women and girls with disabilities. First edition.

Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
October 2016

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A Toolkit for women or girls with disabilities to learn more about human rights and how this knowledge can be used to achieve change in their own lives or the lives of others. Following an introduction about why this Toolkit is needed,  a brief overview of five key human rights issues that women and girls with disability in Australia have identified as most important to them is provided. Section 3 provides information about what human rights are and also gives a brief overview about Australia’s international human rights obligations. Sections 4 and 5 focus on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), examining the main ‘Article’ from each, that deals with the important urgent issues that have been identified by women with disability in Australia, which are: Violence; Decision-Making; Participation; Sexual and Reproductive Rights; and, Employment. For each of these issues, the words of the main Article (as it appears in the CRPD and CEDAW) are provided and explained in practical terms, and examples are given of what governments have to know and do. Information from WWDA members and supporters about some of the key changes which need to happen is given. Different ideas of what women and girls with disability can do to help achieve change and promote the rights of all women and girls with disability are given and some sample letters and ‘talking points’ for phone calls to a local Member of Parliament, or a government Minister or advisers are provided.   

Women and girls with disabilities. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. General comment No. 3 (2016). Article 6.

OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (OHCHR)
September 2016

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"International and national laws and policies on disability have historically neglected aspects related to women and girls with disabilities. In turn, laws and policies addressing women have traditionally ignored disability". "Article 6 serves as an interpretation tool to approach the responsibilities of States parties across the Convention, to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of women and girls with disabilities, from a human rights-based approach and a development perspective". These general comments take the form of an introduction, normative content, states parties’ obligations, the interrelationship of article 6 with other articles of the Convention (perspectives of women with disabilities in CRPD provisions) and national implementation

Challenges to principled humanitarian action: Perspectives from four countries.

NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL
Handicap International
July 2016

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The purpose of this paper is to contribute to an increased understanding of the perceived and actual challenges humanitarians face in operational contexts as they apply the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. A snapshot is provided of four case studies; Colombia, Nepal, northern Syria and South Sudan. Through a combination of field research, headquarters interviews, desk research, and a webinar, views and observations are presented from the humanitarian community. These observations provide a glimpse into the challenges faced by principled humanitarians. As a result the paper puts forward seven recommendations intended to assist humanitarians and states to sharpen tools and strengthen approaches when implementing principled humanitarian protection and assistance. An addendum to this study provides perspectives from selected members of the donor community. This research was conducted through interviews with state representatives in Geneva, aiming to understand how donors perceive their responsibilities in upholding the humanitarian principles and the Good Humanitarian Donorship Principles. This final chapter highlights challenges faced by states while supporting principled humanitarian action, particularly in conflict zones. On the basis of this research, additional recommendations for both states and humanitarians are proposed to strengthen the adherence to the humanitarian principles

Protect us! Inclusion of children with disabilities in child protection

Hannah Kuper
Morgon Banks
Susan Kelly
Nambusi Kyegombe
Karen Devries
June 2016

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Children with disabilities experience very high levels of violence, according to this research from Plan International and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The new study carried out in Uganda and Malawi provides valuable insights into the lives of children with disabilities. Key findings include: 

- Girls and boys with disabilities experience extremely high levels of violence: 84% of children with disabilities surveyed reported having experienced some form of violence at school in the previous week.
- Girls with disabilities were more likely to report emotional and sexual violence than girls without disabilities.
- Children with disabilities find it difficult to access community-based child protection mechanisms, due to a range of barriers including environmental barriers, social barriers and institutional barriers.

This extremely important piece of research shows that if we don’t explicitly include, we exclude. In line with the aspiration of the Sustainable Development Goals to “leave no one behind” and with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we therefore call upon Plan International and all other development actors to work together to stop the widespread violence against boys and girls with disabilities, and take concrete steps to include them in child protection mechanisms.

Living in fear: experiences of hate crime and discrimination amongst people with learning disabilities and autism

BRADSHAW, Jill
RICHARDSON, Lisa
May 2016

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The views and experiences of people with learning disabilities and autism living within one UK unitary authority (Medway, Kent) were explored.  Aspects investigated were: how many people victimisation affects; who is affected by victimisation; what type of things happen to them; and the impact of victimisation on their quality of life.  The focus groups were: 7 groups with people with intellectual disability and autism (31 people); 4 groups with family and paid carers (33 people).  A survey was completed by: people with intellectual disabilities and autism (220 surveys) and family or paid carers (35 surveys).  27 individual interviews were carried out. 

Living in hell : how people with mental health conditions in Indonesia are treated

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (HRW)
March 2016

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This report examines the abuses—including pasung—that persons with psychosocial disabilities face in the community, mental hospitals, and various other institutions in Indonesia, including stigma, arbitrary and prolonged detention, involuntary treatment, and physical and sexual violence. It also examines the government’s shortcomings in addressing these problems.

Based on research across the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, Human Rights Watch documented 175 cases of persons with psychosocial disabilities in pasung or who were recently rescued from pasung. 

 

Living in hell : abuses against people with psychosocial disabilities in Indonesia

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (HRW)
March 2016

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This article with a video is related to a report examining the abuses—including pasung—that persons with psychosocial disabilities face in the community, mental hospitals, and various other institutions in Indonesia, including stigma, arbitrary and prolonged detention, involuntary treatment, and physical and sexual violence. It also examines the government’s shortcomings in addressing these problems.

Based on research across the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, Human Rights Watch documented 175 cases of persons with psychosocial disabilities in pasung or who were recently rescued from pasung. 

 

Gender and disability : a way forward to overcoming multiple discrimination

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
2015

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This advocacy briefing paper presents key information about the inclusion of disability in gender policies and programs. It highlights key facts and issues such as women and girls with disabilities facing multiple discrimination, gaps in political and program responses and legal policy and frameworks. It outlines practical steps can be taken by development actors at different levels and suggests ways to measure progress

 

Advocacy briefing paper

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

Influence & ethics - Handicap International's analyses, alerts, debates and recommendations on policy and ethics.

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
2015

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Influence & Ethics is operated jointly for Handicap International by the Advocacy Team of the Federation and by Handicap International Foundation.

Its aim is to provide information on our advocacy messages and activities, and to promote a dialogue and share analyses and ideas on policies and ethical issues related to Handicap International three main fields of intervention: reduction of armed violence, inclusive development, effective and inclusive humanitarian response

No justice : torture, trafficking and segregation in Mexico

RODRIGUEZ, Priscila
ROSENTHAL, Eric
GUERRERO, Humberto
July 2015

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This report presents the findings of Disability Rights International (DRI)'s two-year investigation into the treatment of children and adults with mental disabilities in Mexico City which found a pattern of egregious and widespread human rights violations. The investigation found that in Mexico City having a disability can mean a life of detention and uncovered the existence of a “blacklist” of particularly abusive institutions that the Mexico City authorities are aware of – yet they permit these facilities to operate. DRI visited five of 25 facilities on the blacklist and specifically highlight the findings from Mama Rosa and Casa Esperanza, which was so abusive that DRI filed a formal complaint to DIF and sought immediate action by DIF to protect detainees. The report outlines the overall findings and how Mexico can take steps toward reform and justice calling for immediate steps to enforce the basic human rights of people with disabilities and outlines

Note: the report is available in pdf and word versions in both English and Spanish

"I see that it is possible": Building capacity for disability inclusion in gender-based violence programming in humanitarian settings

Women's Refugee Commission
International Rescue Committee
May 2015

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While humanitarian organizations are increasingly recognizing women and girls with disabilities in policies and guidelines, there are still significant gaps in operationalizing this. Their needs and capacities are often under-represented in gender, protection and disability forums. Furthermore, organizations of women with disabilities, which can play a critical role in bridging the development/humanitarian divide, are not meaningfully included in humanitarian coordination and decision-making.

This report documents findings and recommendations from a participatory action research project on disability inclusion in GBV programming in humanitarian settings, conducted with communities affected by crisis and conflict.

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

Violence against children with ASD and risks of unintentional violent behaviours : epidemiology and characteristics

VISCI, Giovanni
2015

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“This report is the first part of the action research carried out within the Speak Up project. It presents the research results in the field of epidemiology, as well as the characteristics of children and young people with ASD [Autistic Spectrum Disorder] as victims of abuse or as unintentional perpetrators. This survey was carried out transnationally. Each of the partners involved in the project provided sample cases involving children with ASD as victims of abuse, as well as sample cases involving children and young people with ASD as unintentional perpetrators of violence. The research aims at researching the correlations between violence and the characteristics of autism, and the correlations between forms of maltreatment and their corresponding causes”. The sample size was 70

 

Research part I : survey on the Epidemiology and characteristics of population of investigated children victims or unintentionally perpetrators

 

SPEAK UP project : system for protection and empowerment of autistic child as victim of abuse or unintentional perpetrator (Just/2012/DAP/AG/3192)

Guidelines for integrating gender-based violence interventions in humanitarian action: Reducing risk, promoting resilience and aiding recovery

WARD, Jean
LAFRENIERE, Julie
et al
2015

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The purpose of these Guidelines is to assist humanitarian actors and communities affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for the prevention and mitigation of gender-based violence (GBV) across all sectors of humanitarian response. Part One presents an overview of GBV, provides an explanation for why GBV is a protection concern for all humanitarian actors and outlines recommendations for ensuring implementation of the Guidelines. Part Two provides a background to the ‘thematic areas’ in Part Three. It also introduces the guiding principles and approaches that are the foundation for all planning and implementation of GBV-related programming. Part Three constitutes the bulk of these Guidelines. It provides specific guidance, organized into thirteen thematic area sections: camp coordination and camp management; child protection; education; food security and agriculture; health; housing, land and property; humanitarian mine action; livelihoods; nutrition; protection; shelter, settlement and recovery; water, sanitation and hygiene; humanitarian operations support sectors. The importance of cross-sectoral coordination is highlighted in each section. It is also recommended that sector actors review the content of all thematic area sections. The Guidelines draw from many tools, standards, background materials and other resources developed by the United Nations, national and international non-governmental organizations, and academic sources. In each thematic area there is a list of resources specific to that area, and additional GBV-related resources are provided in Annex 1. The importance of indicators being disaggregated by sex, age, disability and other vulnerability factors is highlighted throughout.

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