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Sexual Abuse of Persons with Disabilities - Research

Rob Aley
et al
November 2016

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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 Abuse of Persons with Disabilities - Research

ALEY, Rob
et al
November 2016

Expand view

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.

Gender equality and the HIV pandemic

HOPE, Ruth
2007

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This paper suggests the need for a particular focus on women and women's empowerment as part of the response to the HIV pandemic, because the majority of infections are sexually transmitted

Gender equality and "sugar daddies"

HOPE, Ruth
2007

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This paper considers the risks to young women of cross-generational sex, given that young women 15-24 years in sub-Saharan Africa are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than young men of the same age. It looks at sexual risk behaviour, consent, exploitation and coercion, and transactional sex with regard to cross-generational sex and it also looks at interventions to address risky behaviour

The changing context of sexual initiation in sub-Saharan Africa

MENSCH, Barbara S
GRANT, Monica J
BLANC, Ann K
November 2005

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During the past 20 years, substantial reductions have occurred in the proportion of young women who report marrying as teenagers in sub-Saharan Africa. An oft-stated consequence of a delay in age at marriage is a rise in the proportion of young women who engage in premarital sex. This paper investigates the links between changing age at marriage and premarital sexual behavior in 27 sub-Saharan African countries in which Demographic and Health Surveys were conducted between 1994 and 2003. Using multiple-decrement life tables to examine the competing risks of premarital sex and marriage without prior sexual experience, we answer the largely unaddressed question of how reductions in the prevalence of early marriage have affected the likelihood of initiating premarital sex. Our analysis reveals that although the age of first sexual activity has either remained the same or increased, a shift in the context of sexual debut from marriage to before marriage has taken place in many countries. We assess whether the increase in the proportion of young women who report premarital sex is influenced by an increase in exposure resulting from delayed marriage or by an increase in the rate of premarital sex. The evidence on this point is mixed; in some settings greater exposure explains more of the increase, whereas in others an increased rate of premarital sex dominates

Trends in the timing of first marriage among men and women in the developing world

MENSCH, Barbara S
SINGH, Susheela
CASTERLINE, John B
August 2005

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The timing of first union merits investigation not only because of the close temporal link between marriage and the onset of childbearing, but also because the age when men and women marry has implications for the organization of family life and for gender relations within society. This paper begins by reviewing the contributions of various social science disciplines to an understanding of the timing of marriage. Using current status data from 73 countries provided by the United Nations Population Division and retrospective data from 52 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2001, we then examine recent trends in the timing of first marriage or union for men and women in the developing world. With the exception of South America for both sexes and South and Southeast Asia for men, substantial declines have occurred in the proportion of young men and women who are married. Given the differentials in the timing of marriage by educational attainment and residence, we assess whether the decline in the proportion of young people who are married is related to increases in schooling and urbanization. Expansion of schooling for women has had some impact, but a considerable portion of the reduction in early marriage is not explained by changes in levels of education. We consider other factors that might account for the increase in age at marriage. Finally, we review what is known about the consequences of changing age at marriage with a particular focus on risk of HIV infection.

Impact of sex and HIV education programs on sexual behaviors of youth in developing and developed countries

KIRBY, Douglas
LARIS, B A
ROLLERI, Lori
2005

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This paper discusses findings from a review of 83 evaluations of sex and HIV education programmes. The analysis found substantial positive impact on sexual behaviours in more than two-thirds of the evaluations and identified 17 characteristics of the most effective curricula used in the programmes evaluated. More information on this review is available, including links to data sheets on each of the 83 evaluations. [Publisher's abstract, amended]

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