Violence against women and girls with disabilities

Women with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be physically or sexually abused than women without disabilities. Additionally, women with disabilities also experience physical and psychological violence and abuse and neglect that take on forms specific to women with disabilities, for example, withholding medication or food and water, withholding access to assistive devices, removing ramps, refusal of caregivers to assist with daily living.

When seeking help and support and reporting incidences of abuse and violence women with disabilities experience many barriers accessing services including in the justice system.

Resources in this section include evidence and research relating to violence against women with disabilities, and practical examples of ways development programs can ensure that women with disabilities are included in programs that address gender based violence.

See also: Child Protection, Sexual and reproductive health, Law and Justice.

Humanity & Inclusion (2018) Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa. website with link to PDF

This document provides a sample of case studies of good practice for addressing violence against women and girls with disabilities from across several countries in Africa. The case studies are submitted and reviewed by a technical advisory board according to a methodology called ‘Making It Work’ developed by Humanity & Inclusion. The case studies are reviewed against the following criteria: 1. Demonstrable impact 2. Replicability 3. Sustainability 4. Efficiency 5. Person centred 6. Confirming to the general principles of the CRPD. These case studies can be useful for reviewing project proposals and for providing ideas to implementing partners as to how they can integrate protection from GBV for women and girls with disabilities, into their programs.

Pacific Disability Forum (2014) Toolkit on Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Fiji HTML with link to PDF (1.51 MB)

This training toolkit has been prepared by Disabled Peoples Organisations in Fiji to address violence against women and girls with disabilities. It provides a set of tools for organisations working in the area of ending violence against women and girls and particularly those providing training on this issue. The toolkit includes 5 modules with facilitator notes, additional information and worksheets to run the sessions. It is useful to share with mainstream EVAW programs to assist them consider disability inclusion in their programs and could be used as a prototype for similar toolkits that might be developed and adapted to the cultural context in other countries.

The Asia Foundation (2016) Understanding Violence against Women and Children in Timor-Leste: Findings from the Nabilan Baseline Study - Summary Report Link to PDF (1.78MB)

This summary report outlines the key findings of research conducted in 2015 on Violence against Women in Timor-Leste. The report presents evidence from both male and female respondents on the scale and severity of violence against women as well as evidence on the beliefs, past experiences and other factors that increase the risk of violence against women. The research revealed that 59 per cent of women aged 15-49 in Timor-Leste have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 47 per cent in the 12 months before the interview. The research found a strong link between violence and disability: women with disabilities in Timor-Leste were 2-3 times more likely to have experienced physical or sexual violence than women without disabilities. Intimate partner violence was also closely associated with women experiencing poorer mental health. The report provides a range of recommendations on how to strengthen Ending Violence Against Women programs,

Human Rights Watch (2010) "As if We Weren't Human" Discrimination and Violence against Women with Disabilities in Northern Uganda PDF (1.92 MB)

This in-depth report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in six districts in Northern Uganda in 2010. It describes the challenges in post-conflict settings in relation to the protection of women with disabilities against violence, and outlines the obligation to respect the rights of people with disabilities under international, regional and national legal frameworks. The contextual barriers to protection, as well as the obstacles to participation, inclusion and access to justice, provide important and relevant lessons for other post-conflict settings. Key recommendations provided to the government of Uganda and other stakeholders could be relevant for donors working either directly or through partners with other States in post-conflict settings to eliminate violence against women with disabilities.

IWDA Triple Jeopardy: Resources

This website hosts a number of resources developed by IWDA, Monash University, CBM-Nossal Institute Partnership in Disability and Development, Banteay Srei (a Cambodian DPO) during the ‘Triple Jeopardy’ participatory research project on gender-based violence and human rights violations experienced by women with disabilities in Cambodia. Resources include a toolkit, comprising 6 modules that are intended for use at the community level in programs addressing discrimination against women. A policy brief is also available, along with posters, case studies and a pamphlet for use at the community level. Intended for and tested in the Cambodia context, these resources could be adapted for use in other contexts.

Humanity & Inclusion Source: Key list resources on gender and disability (updated regularly)

This key list presents information about gender and disability. Resources featured include key policy and rights documents, reports and country studies that highlight the situation of women with disabilities and gender-related development initiatives. This key list has a number of practical resources that programmers and implementers could use when working to address inclusion of women with disabilities. Information relating to sexual health and violence issues is also available.

Astbury J and Walji F (2013) Triple Jeopardy: Gender-based violence and human rights violations experienced by women with disabilities in Cambodia (PDF 640 KB, Word 2 MB)

This working paper reports on a participatory research project conducted through a partnership between five research organisations: Banteay Srei, a Cambodian women’s rights NGO; the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation; CBM-Australia; IWDA; and Monash University. Though Cambodia-specific the report provides examples of how participatory research can inform policy development on gender-based violence.

Manjoo R (2012) Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (PDF 136.27 KB)

This is the second report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences to the United Nations General Assembly. Bringing together information from a number of resources, it is useful for gaining a broad understanding of the issue of violence against women with disabilities, including causes and consequences. The document also recommends measures to eliminate violence against women at national and regional levels.

CBM Australia (2013) End the cycle- Naomi Tai’s story (video)

This three minute video clip is presented by Naomi Tai, a young woman from Solomon Islands who shares her experiences of exclusion and inclusion as a person with a disability. She also discusses the issue of violence against women with disabilities in Solomon Islands. This video could be used to stimulate discussion about violence against women with disabilities with any development stakeholders, but would need to be supplemented with additional resources to support key messages.

Washington Group on Disability Statistics technical presentation

Jennifer H. Madans Ph.D., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Mitchell Loeb,
Health Scientist, NCHS from the secretariat of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics delivered a technical session
on how to use the Washington Group questions in monitoring data systems and how to disaggregate data by disability
followed by a question and answer session at the University of Melbourne on Thursday, 30 April 2015. The presentation
was organised by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Presentation from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics
Picture of a group of 7 women from Cambodia sitting in a meeting room.  The woman to the front of the picture is a wheelchair user. She is holding a picture and speaking. The other women are all listening to her.

Photo: Nina Vallins, 2012

Women with and without disabilities participate in a workshop as part of the "Triple Jeopardy" research project on violence against women with disabilities in Cambodia. The women, in Battambang, are testing a workshop manual developed to challenge discrimination against women with disabilities. Here, a member of the Battambang Disabled People’s Organisation reports back to the group. For more information on "Triple Jeopardy" click here. Copyright: IWDA