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International Women's Day: Women with disabilities almost ten times more likely to experience sexual violence

Prevention Rights
International

On 8th March, International Women's Day, HI is calling attention to the fact that more than one in three women experience violence in their lifetime, and women with disabilities are particularly at risk. HI's work aims to prevent violence and provide women with psychological and medical support.

Nancy, who participated in a psychosocial support activity with HI in DR Congo.

Nancy, who participated in a psychosocial support activity with HI in DR Congo. | © Rosalie Colfs/HI

About one in three (35%)[1] of women worldwide have experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual violence in their lifetime - most of this is intimate partner violence. This violence is a serious violation of their rights[2]. Women and girls with disabilities[3] are almost ten times more likely to experience sexual violence.

Because of social and cultural stereotypes, women do not always enjoy the right to a responsible, satisfying sexual life or to decide to have children when they want to. Moreover, women with disabilities, who are often very close to, or even dependent on, other adults in their immediate circle, are even more vulnerable. This violence causes many health problems, psychological trauma and social and economic exclusion.

For more than 25 years, HI has been implementing projects to combat violence around the world[4] including raising women's awareness of their rights and empowering them to make decisions.

In Rwanda, HI has been providing psychological support to victims of physical and sexual violence and setting up discussion groups since 1994. In Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya, HI also works to combat sexual violence against children, including children with disabilities, who are three to four times more likely to be at risk of violence.

“Violence against women and girls with disabilities is invisible, poorly understood and largely ignored. These projects are essential to enable them to rebuild their lives, break out of their isolation and play a role in their community. Ending this violence is a priority,” explains Bénédicte de la Taille, HI's protection from violence expert.

Making It Work

HI works with disabled people’s organisations and feminist organisations as part of its Making it Work project to increase the visibility of innovative best practices (training women, awareness-raising activities and so on) related to the protection of women's rights. The aim[5] is also to ensure that women's voices are heard and that the risks they face (violence, abuse and exploitation) are taken into account in the projects implemented by numerous organisations (humanitarian, human rights and the fight against gender-based violence).


[2] And a major public health issue.

[3] Particularly women with intellectual disabilities.

[4] Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

[5] Based on political advocacy.

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