SAFE SPACES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY.
Persons with disabilities often face multiple levels of stigma and discrimination in our society and the situation is even worse when they are women.
Women with disabilities experience a greater risk of violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse.
According to America’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) the term “disability. “often refers to a wide range of limitations such as sensory (vision hearing), cognitive self-care and mobility limitations.
A safe space is a place intended to be free of bias conflict, criticism or potentially threatening actions, ideas or conversations.
Addressing the media women with disabilities drawn from from United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) and Women Challenged to Challenge highlighted a documented report of a woman with disability from Machakos County who was allegedly raped, killed and her crutches inserted in to her genitals.
They also noted that in 2015 a girl from Nyandarua was gang-raped but the case was dismissed a year later, for lack of evidence. In such a scenarios women with disabilities may suffer the same fate in future if they are not well educated on the issue of evidence handling especially in relation to rape cases.
Reports of taxi drivers taking advantage of women with disabilities due to their ‘weak’ nature and assaulting them while in their cars are also emerging.
COMPROMISE DUE TO CONSENT OF FAMILIES
In slums, many women are assaulted yearly as poverty makes them vulnerable and the perpetrators always go scot free since the matter is often settled by paying of relatives of the victim. The victims later suffer due to stigma.
To this end persond with disabilities should have a sexual violence education program to help them learn about violations of their rights.
The Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions should seriously put measures to curb sexual violence among women with disabilities as well as prosecute sexual offenders.
The government should take appropriate measures in ensuring persons with disabilities are safe and their safe spaces respected.
Article by Grace Tsimbiko.