There are 60 million women and girls with disabilities in Europe, representing 60% of the overall population of persons with disabilities. Women with disabilities are 2 to 5 times more likely to be victims of violence than women without disabilities and are subjected to forced sterilisation and abortions against their will, as well as other forms of disability-specific violence. Accessing justice and support and protection services is often impossible for women with disabilities because of accessibility, legal and other barriers.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified. It is still impossible to gauge the global impact of the pandemic; however, it has brought to light the human rights violations faced by thousands of women and girls with disabilities.
On the World Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on 25 November, EDF is calling on the European Union (EU) to protect the rights of women with disabilities. The EU should take concrete actions to end violence, abuse and forced sterilization for all women and girls with disabilities, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
On 8th of December, the EU will reveal a proposal for an EU legislation on combating violence against women and gender-based violence. Such proposal must be as ambitious of the Istanbul Convention, disability inclusive and protect women and girls in all their diversity.
What is disability-specific violence?
Disability-specific violence are forms of violence faced by women and girls with disabilities that are exacerbated because perpetrators take advantage of the barriers and discrimination they face on the grounds of their disability. For example they may include physical, psychological and economic violence such as restraint, sexual abuse during daily hygiene routines, removal or control of communication aids, violence in the course of treatment, overmedication or withholding medication, control of finance including allowance and emotional abuse related to disability. Women with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, deafblind women and girls, and women and girls with high support needs are most a risk of disability-specific violence.
What is the Istanbul Convention? And why is so important?
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence better known as the “Istanbul Convention” is an international treaty to help tackle violence against women and girls. It was adopted in 2011 and entered into force in 2014.
The Convention is the first European instrument that aims legally to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence, and punish perpetrators. It explains what countries have to do to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Some of the measures are awareness raising, data collection, and legal measures (for example recognising that forced sterilisation or female genital mutilation is a form of violence against women). The focus is for governmental bodies to be involved in prevention, prosecution, and protection activities. This can be done through training, education, resources, law enforcement, and legal systems.
More information on the Istanbul Convention
The European Disability Forum wishes to raise its voice to condemn the situation in which thousands of women and girls with disabilities in Europe find themselves as victims or at serious risk of being victim of violence against women and gender-based violence, in all its shapes and forms without exception and which remains invisible in public policies in this area.
Not only they face violence at a higher rate than women without disabilities, they also face additional barriers in reporting, accessing justice, and have access to victims’ rights support measures and protection orders.
We call on the European Union to:
- Adopt a strong EU legislation on combating violence against women and girls and gender-based violence, inclusive of women and girls in all their diversity
- Add gender-based violence to the list of EU crimes
- Achieve the ratification of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention
- Ensure that gender-based violence is addressed within relevant EU policies and strategies(education, humanitarian aid, digital agenda, etc.)
- Collect data and conducting research on the root causes, prevalence, consequences and costs of gender based and domesticó violence. Data and research should be disaggregated to inform on the specific situation of marginalised groups, including women and girls with disabilities and mothers and other women caring for relatives with disabilities.
- Finance and promote training and capacity building of professionals in EU Member States, such as support service providers, healthcare and criminal justice professionals (including providers of services for victims’, doctors, midwives, police officers, judges). All professionals should be trained on violence against women and girls, in particular those working with marginalised groups of women such as women and girls with disabilities, including those living in institutions.
- Finance and promote emotional and sexuality education in EU Member States, including through project funding. This should be offered to young people with disabilities living in and outside institutions, and include information on respect to others and capacity of saying no, involving organisations of women with disabilities and women’s groups.
EDF position paper on violence against women and girls with disabilities
EDF has published a position paper on violence against women and girls with disabilities and call on the European Union to urgently adopt measures to prevent, prohibit and condemn violence against women and girls in all their diversity.
Read it below:
EDF position paper on Violence against women and girls with disabilities in the European Union
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