Advocacy for Women With Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) has urged the Federal Government and stakeholders advocating for the right of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to go beyond words of mouth regarding the risks of abuse, experiences of abuse, and barriers to seeking redress as well as remedy by women and girls with disabilities.
AWWDI member, Uche Uwadia-Garba who stated this, yesterday, in Abuja during a media interaction, disclosed that the body has observed lack of notable action by the stakeholders who are supposed to be involved in the struggle for disability rights in the country.
Garba who is also an investigation officer in the service of National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC) noted that the National Disability Act (NDA), Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, VAPP Act, NHRC Act, NAPTIP Act, SRHR Policy, are national laws and policy put in place and important for the protection of human rights and intervention measure for the elimination or reduction of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Lamenting the slow pace of effective implementation of the legal frameworks contained in the NDA and the VAPP Act, which are specific with issues of GBV against women and girls with disabilities, she called the attention of stakeholders, media and the community of persons with disabilities to prioritise issues of gender based violence.
According to Garba, the absence of attention to the issues of disabilities right from both disability communities and stakeholders collective voice has contributed to the invisibility and victimisation of women and girls with disabilities.
Also speaking, AWWDI Coordinating group member, Chukwuma Amarachi said discrimination towards people with disabilities, coupled with attitudes towards women in patriarchal societies. She said this put women and girls with disabilities at increased risk for violence.
She said, “Most of the time when we raise this issues, they will tell us ‘women are not there yet and you are talking of women and girls with disabilities even among the women groups.”
Noting that women and girls with disabilities experience many of the same forms of violence that all women experience, Amarachi explained that when gender and disability intersect, violence has unique forms and causes, and results in unique consequences.
She added: “Women and girls with disabilities are particularly targeted by perpetrators of violence because of social exclusion, limited mobility, a lack of support structures, communication barriers, and negative social perceptions.
“The range of violence experienced by women and girls with disabilities can include physical and sexual violence, as well as emotional and verbal abuse.”
She noted investigation by the body over the years within the communities showed that there is a higher rate of violence against women with disabilities than against men with disabilities, adding that a number of AWWDI’s self-help groups in rural communities report GBV than their counterpart in the city.
Another Coordinating member, Yakubu Bikisu who urged the media and the stakeholders to take a stand for women and girls with disabilities where it matter, also called on the police and law enforcement agency to see that justice is done against perpetrators.