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Violence against women with disabilities is an invisible reality

“Women with disabilities are four times more likely to suffer from sexual violence than other women,” said Ana Peláez Narváez, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Director of International Relations at the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE), at a hearing on “Violence against women with disabilities” held at a joint committee and Network meeting on 24 June 2014 in Strasbourg.

“They were also all too often deprived of their sexual and reproductive rights and subjected to forced sterilisation and forced abortion,” she added, underlining the difficulties they met when trying to file a complaint and the strong dependence on the perpetrator, often a relative. “Violence against women with disabilities is an invisible reality. It is time to give credibility to women with disabilities victims of violence,” she continued.

According to Gill Hague, Professor of Violence Against Women Studies at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, “women with disabilities often experience distressing and frequent, prolonged violence, including sexual, emotional and financial violence as well as physical, from their partner who is often also their main carer, from their family or paid carer. Disabled women are frequently in a situation of extreme isolation, extreme vulnerability and extreme neglect”.

“Women and girls with disabilities continued to face multiple discrimination, based not only on their disability but also on their gender. We should ensure that women with disabilities are treated with full respect for their human rights and are empowered to thrive in society on the basis of full equality,” stated Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe.