Women for Women – For a Life without Violence: Interaction with Women with Disabilities and Support Provision in Situations of (Sexual) Violence


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 KRUGAVOJVODINA 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.