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Violence against women: Violence against women and girls with disability

Discrimination Sex Discrimination
Thursday 22 January, 2015

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Women with disability experience violence at significantly higher rates, more frequently, for longer, in more ways and by more perpetrators compared to women and girls without disability.

[9] Women and girls with disability experiencing violence also face significant barriers in accessing critical domestic, family, sexual and community support services that are inclusive and responsive to their needs.[10]

In 2012, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared a thematic analytical study on the issue of violence against women and girls and disability.

The report noted that women and girls with disability face a greater risk of violence. The study made several recommendations to address violence against women and girls with disability, and emphasised the need for a holistic approach aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls with disability, promoting their autonomy and addressing specific risk factors that expose them to violence.[11]

The CEDAW Committee has urged the Australian Government to ‘address, as a matter of priority, the abuse and violence experienced by women with disabilities living in institutions or supported accommodation’.[12] In 2012 the Commission submitted an independent interim report on CEDAW and recommended that the Government undertake a comprehensive assessment of the situation of women with disability, including their experiences of violence including in institutions and supported accommodation.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the CEDAW Committee have also expressed concerns and have urged the Government to enact national legislation prohibiting the practice, except where there is a serious threat to life or health.[13]
The Commission has recommended that the Government prohibit the non-therapeutic sterilisation of women and girls with disability, and ensure that mechanisms are in place to provide adequate protections from such sterilisations.[14]

On 17 July 2013, the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs released their report on the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia. The Committee recommended that using sterilisation to manage pregnancy risks associated with sexual abuse must never be a factor in approving sterilisation, along with several other key recommendations on this issue[15].

In 2013 the Stop the Violence Project was conducted by Women with Disabilities Australia, People With Disability Australia and University of New South Wales, and was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services, under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Commissioner Broderick was the Chair of the Project Steering Group.

The project provides an evidence base to support future reform in service provision to better respond to the needs of women and girls with disability experiencing violence. As part of the project a National Symposium on Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities was held in late 2013. A number of reports and a resource compendium were produced to support good policy and practice in addressing issues of violence against women and girls with disabilities.

 


 

[9] C Frohmader, Submission to the Australian Government Consultation Paper, Family Violence – Improving Legal Frameworks (2010), p6.
[10] Examples of these barriers include the lack of accessible counselling services; inadequate carer and services provider training on gender and disability; the inaccessibility of crisis accommodation; and limited support for women with disabilities seeking to navigate the legal system. These issues were raised in Australian Human Rights Commission, Australian study tour report - Visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women (2012), pp 38-39. At https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/australian-study-tour-report-visit-un-special-rapporteur-violence-against-women (viewed 7 October 2014).
[11] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Thematic study on the issue of violence against women and girls and disability, UN Doc A/HRC/2/5 (2012). At: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A-HRC-20-5_en.pdf (viewed 7 October 2014)
[12] CEDAW Committee, Concluding Observations: Australia, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/AUL/CO/7 (2010), para 43.
[13] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Australia, UN Doc CRC/C/15/Add.268 (2005), paras 45-46; CEDAW Committee, Concluding Observations: Australia, UN Doc CEDAW/C/AUL/CO/7 (2010), paras 43-44.
[14] Australian Human Rights Commission, Independent Interim Report on CEDAW, (2012). At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/independent-interim-report-cedaw (viewed 7 October 2014).
[15] See Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee on The Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia (2012). At: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/20121128_sterilisation.pdf (viewed 7 October 2014).