Violence against women with disabilities and Covid 19


On the occa­sion of the Inter­na­tion­al Day of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties, the Orga­ni­za­tion for Sup­port of Women with Dis­abil­i­ties IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA from Novi Sad is orga­niz­ing a webi­nar on Vio­lence against Women with Dis­abil­i­ties and Covid 19.

Women with dis­abil­i­ties are on aver­age 2 to 5 times more at risk of vio­lence than oth­er women. Dur­ing their life­time, they expe­ri­ence var­i­ous forms of gen­der-based vio­lence: from ridicule and rude jokes, crit­i­cism and under­min­ing of deci­sions and opin­ions, insults and threats, through neglect of needs, eco­nom­ic vio­lence, denial of aid, con­trol and iso­la­tion, to phys­i­cal and sex­u­al vio­lence. Women who need dai­ly assis­tance are exposed to spe­cif­ic forms of vio­lence such as bond­ing, sex­u­al abuse dur­ing per­son­al hygiene, removal or con­trol of com­mu­ni­ca­tion means, vio­lence dur­ing treat­ment, overuse of medica­ments or denial of medica­ments. They expe­ri­ence vio­lence from mem­bers of the pri­ma­ry fam­i­ly, mar­i­tal and extra­mar­i­tal part­ners, friends, acquain­tances, col­leagues at work, employ­ers and employ­ees in insti­tu­tions, from peo­ple they sup­port in their dai­ly func­tion­ing, which makes it much hard­er for them to get out of vio­lence.

The data show that since the appear­ance of Covid 19, espe­cial­ly in the peri­od of restric­tive quar­an­tine mea­sures, vio­lence against women has inten­si­fied. Although we didn’t know the per­cent­age of women with dis­abil­i­ties who suf­fer vio­lence dur­ing a pan­dem­ic, it is evi­dent that they face vio­lence, but report it to a less­er extent. The lack of report­ing is a result of bar­ri­ers that exist­ed before the pan­dem­ic, such as lack of acces­si­ble infor­ma­tion, nor­mal­iza­tion of vio­lence in soci­ety, inac­ces­si­ble sup­port ser­vices and report­ing mech­a­nisms, as well as a gen­er­al lack of acces­si­ble ser­vices for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. If insti­tu­tions have ramps at the entrances, it often hap­pens that they are placed at a great incline, which makes them unus­able for wheel­chair users, or only the entrance to the insti­tu­tion is acces­si­ble, while the inte­ri­or remains unsuit­able (with­out handrails, ele­va­tors, tac­tile paths, sig­nal stairs and Sim­i­lar­ly). The men­tal bar­ri­ers of employed pro­fes­sion­als, the stigma­ti­za­tion of dis­abil­i­ty and the lack of acces­si­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion fur­ther com­pli­cate the posi­tion of women with dis­abil­i­ties and the abil­i­ty to achieve the sup­port they need.

In the peri­od of pan­dem­ic and quar­an­tine, the posi­tion of women with dis­abil­i­ties who live in vio­lence is espe­cial­ly risky, because they are exposed to vio­lent part­ners or fam­i­ly mem­bers all day, their right to pri­va­cy is endan­gered, and thus the pos­si­bil­i­ties of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The trend of shift­ing social events from the real to the vir­tu­al space also increas­es the risk of dig­i­tal vio­lence. Women who liv­ing in res­i­den­tial insti­tu­tions are invis­i­ble among the invis­i­ble, no one even talks about them. The pan­dem­ic is a kind of cat­a­lyst for vio­lence, clear­ly and indis­putably man­i­fest­ing ingrained mar­gin­al­iza­tion and the whole spec­trum of chal­lenges that women with dis­abil­i­ties face on a dai­ly basis. Restric­tive mea­sures, iso­la­tion and social dis­tance, which unequiv­o­cal­ly indi­cate to the major­i­ty pop­u­la­tion the time of cri­sis, are com­mon­place in the lives of women with dis­abil­i­ties even in reg­u­lar cir­cum­stances.



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