This post is part of a bloghop started by StewieGriffinsMom for the 16 Days of Action on Violence Against Women. The 16 days campaign began in 1991 and the timing was originally chosen for significant dates such as the start date of November 25th, which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the end date of December 10th which is International Human Rights Day. I signed up for December 3rd which I then discovered to be the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, so I decided to look at the issue of violence against women with disabilities. The 16 days campaign raises awareness on gender based violence. For women with disabilities this is an issue compounded by the intersectionality of gender and disability.
The links between disability, violence, domestic violence and sexual assault are, (unsurprisingly given the nature of oppression), under-researched, but some of the evidence suggests that women with disabilities experience the highest rate of personal violence of any group in society. The Women’s Aid Survivor’s Handbook says: “Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than non-disabled women (1995 British Crime Survey, also confirmed by data from other countries). They are also likely to experience abuse over a longer period of time and to suffer more severe injuries as a result of the violence”.
There can be no doubt that domestic violence against women with disabilities is massively under-reported. The current economic climate can only be making a bad situation worse, as economic cuts disproportionately affect women, people with disabilities and carers.
Hate crimes against people with disabilities have soared to record levels and the government’s ‘benefit scrounger’ rhetoric really isn’t helping: “Last year the Glasgow Media Trust found the public believed between 50 and 70 per cent of those on disability benefits were fraudulent. The actual number is likely to be between 1 and 2 per cent. The same report found that there has been a tripling in the use of words such as “scrounger”, “cheat” and “skiver” in tabloid stories on disability in the past five years,”(from The Independent 19.6.12). Women with disabilities face compounded discrimination under these attacks.
As someone who doesn’t have a disability herself, I hesitated at the idea of writing on this subject, (what do I know?), but then I remembered a twitter conversation that popped up on my feed not long ago lamenting the way able bodied feminists often ignore issues for women with disabilities. Disability touches everyone, whether directly, through family members, temporary illness or injury, or just the awareness of the possibility of future disability and everyone should be aware of, and outraged by, the way Iain Duncan Smith and his millionaire cronies are stigmatising and adding pressure to some of the most disadvantaged people in our society.