Brussels, 8th March 2019, MEDIA RELEASE on International Women’s Day 2019
#itstime #disability #genderequality #IWD2019 #intersectionality
According to the United Nations, girls and young women with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to experience gender-based violence than those without disabilities. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) states that “women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation.”
Girl or woman with disabilities: symbol of double discrimination
Since the dawn of time, in many countries, women are stuck in a silence keeping them in the depths of endless darkness. A silence nourished by indifference, ignorance, culture and education. A settled silence that envelops and buries women in a shroud of non-rights, injustices, psychological brutalities, rapes, tortures and murders, often unseen and hidden from society which continues living, fully unaware. This silence blinds us, keeps us at a distance.
Among these women, those with disabilities are particularly disadvantaged as the prejudices related to their disability are amplified by those related to their gender. This combination pushes the boundaries and allows for more forceful expressions, insults and brutalities. Girls and women with disabilities are seen as easier prey, easier to manipulate, and often not taken seriously when they complain. And last but not least, the greater the dependency, the higher the risk of abuse, in particular in institutional settings. The harder it is for them to get access to justice, the more their credibility will be called into question.
If we rely even on the few available statistics, we can see that the situation regarding gender-based violence is catastrophic. The stability of the figures concerning equality between men and women, and the implementation of their rights tell us that nothing or very little is happening, apart from the narrowing (but still persistent) gender pay gap.
It would seem that education systems cannot meet their essential function to raise awareness about prejudice or discrimination whatever the causes and this leads to wonder what actions or legislation would it take for the fundamental human rights of these girls and women and any woman to move from dream to reality? What should we invent to finally consider a woman, with disability or not, as an equal to an able-bodied man, so that nobody dares to question their rights, dignity and equal opportunities?
That’s where we are today. And every year on the 8th of March, ideas, revolts, speeches of intent, indignations, rise to the fore only to then deflate like balloons afterwards. And nothing, or too little, is said for girls and women with disabilities. The European Union must adopt long-term objectives to ensure FULL and GENDER EQUAL implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by 2030.
We call on each and every one to take up their responsibility by supporting girls and women with disabilities to go out and show themselves. It’s time for action!
For more information contact Isabell Wutz, Communication Officer firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editor
1. It’s Time! is a quote from Ed Roberts in the documentary “When Billy broke his head and other tales of wonder”
2. Young Persons with Disabilities. Global Study on Ending Gender-based Violence and Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, UNFPA, July 2018
3. Adrien Taquet et Jean François Serres “Plus simple la vie : 113 propositions pour améliorer le quotidien des personnes en situation de handicap”. This report highlights the need for a study of sexual violence, adopting a cross-cutting approach covering both disability and gender, as a starting point for developing solutions in public policy. As for intellectual disabilities, the situation is even more problematic – certain studies show that up to 90% of women with autism have been victims of sexual violence. (Brown-Lavoie et al., Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2014.
4. “Life after violence” is a study carried by Inclusion Europe on how women with intellectual disabilities cope with institutional violence: https://www.inclusion-europe.eu/my-biggest-fear-is-that-i-will-be-put-back-into-an-institution/
COFACE Disability was founded by COFACE Families Europe in 1998 and recently transformed in the COFACE Disability platform for the rights of persons with disabilities and their families to improve the representativeness of people with disabilities and their families. To-date, it brings together more than 20 national associations, all members of COFACE Families Europe.
COFACE Families Europe is a European network of civil society associations representing the interests of families (all types, without discrimination). COFACE’s areas of work include social/family policy, education, disability, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, and also protection of children online, privacy, data protection and reflections on technological developments and how they may impact families.
-COFACE Disability: https://www.coface-eu.org/category/disability/coface-disability/
-Campaign of APF France Handicap for IWD2019 https://www.apf-francehandicap.org/femmes