On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Organization for Support of Women with Disabilities …IZ KRUGA — VOJVODINA 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.