Within the scope of the Women for Women – For a Life without Violence project, implemented by the Women against Violence Network and funded by the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, two workshops for activists and helpline consultants of women’s organizations from Vojvodina and Serbia were held in the Zira Hotel in Belgrade on November 9.
Svjetlana Timotić, Executive Director of … IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA Organization, delivered the Disability Etiquette: Recommendations for Interacting with Women with Disabilities workshop. After a brief historical introduction, the participants were presented models and definitions of disability, followed by specific guidelines and recommendations concerning proper terminology and ways of communication with women with various forms of disability. A special focus was on eliminating communication barriers within the support services, so the helpline service would be more accessible to women with disabilities.
Activist Olivera Ilkić delivered the Sexual Violence and Harassment of Women with Disabilities in their Families and/or Institutions workshop. The workshop provided answers to questions faced by women’s organizations on daily basis, such as what to do when we get a feeling of helplessness concerning a woman with a disability in a situation of violence. Further issues discussed were what if the woman surviving violence and/or its perpetrator were under custody, as well as what needed to be done cases of obtaining an information from an institution housing persons with disabilities that a woman in it could be raped. The participants were also informed on specific forms of violence faced by women with disabilities, such as deprivation of assistance, starvation, isolation and neglect.
There is an evident insecurity in dealing with women with disabilities in situations of violence because they use support services much more rarely than women having no disability, so there is a fear of potentially making a mistake while communicating with them. Besides a theoretical background, the participants were also give practical prejudice- and communication-barriers-free guidelines for working with women with disabilities. Sharing of personal experience among women with and without disabilities during this workshop was highly appreciated.