Our Work: Violence Against Women

  • July 31, 2018 ONE.pl and WEI Submission to the CRPD Committee for its Review of Poland

    This submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), drafted by Association for Women with Disabilities ONE.pl and WEI, addresses human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in Poland. These violations include discrimination, stereotypes, exclusion from public participation, and lack of data collection; higher rates of gender-based violence; sexual and reproductive rights violations including forced sterilization and abortion as well as lack of access to respectful maternal health care, contraception, and abortion services and comprehensive sexuality education; discrimination in education and employment; and denial of legal capacity. This submission also outlines how Poland's reservations to the CRPD impact women and girls with disabilities and violate the object and purpose of the treaty, calling on Poland to withdraw those reservations. Read the publications:

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee Review of Poland July 31, 2018.pdf

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee Review of Poland July 31, 2018.docx


  • July 31, 2018 WEI and South Africa Partners Submission to the CRPD Committee for its Review of South Africa

    WEI partnered with eight local organizations - Cape Mental Health, Centre for Human Rights at The University of Pretoria, Epilepsy South Africa, Khuluma Family Counselling, Lawyers for Human Rights, Port Elizabeth Mental Health, SA Federation for Mental Health, and The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children.  The report included anecdotal evidence collected from four local mental health organizations. This submission describes human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in South Africa, including failure to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement, and empowerment of women and girls with disabilities or affirmative measures to address discrimination; inaccessible justice systems and procedures; lack of accessible gender-based violence services and other supports and services for women and girls with disabilities and their families and caregivers; institutionalization, violence in institutions, and deficient support and oversight of institutions and other facilities for persons with disabilities; violations of women with disabilities' right to make their own reproductive choices and their right to legal capacity; lack of comprehensive sexuality education and discriminatory attitudes of healthcare providers; and lack of data collection disaggregated by disability and gender.

    Through this submission, our organizations made the following key recommendations:

      • Take specific measures to address the discrimination experienced by women and girls with disabilities and to empower women and girls with disabilities, especially black women with disabilities. 
      • Improve access to justice for women and girls with disabilities by amending laws and policies and providing training to justice system actors. 
      • Combat abuse and violence against women and girls with disabilities by ensuring gender-based violence services are accessible and available in disadvantaged areas; by developing inclusive awareness raising programs; by conducting research on the availability of programs and monitoring programs; and by investing in preventative gender-based violence programs. 
      • Amend laws that compromise South African women with disabilities' right to make their own reproductive choices and their right to legal capacity. 
      • Ensure that comprehensive sexuality education programs are available and accessible to women and girls with disabilities. 
      • Collect data on the issues that most impact women and girls with disabilities and ensure that women and girls with disabilities are included in all data collected about women and in all data collected about persons with disabilities.

    WEI et al South Africa CRPD Committee Shadow Report Submission - July 31, 2018.pdf

    WEI et al South Africa CRPD Committee Shadow Report Submission - July 31, 2018.docx

     

  • April 30, 2018 WEI, Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI),  and Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) Shadow Letter on Nigeria to the Human Rights Committee for its development of a List of Issues in the Absence of a State Report. WEI, AWWDI, and LEDAP submitted a shadow letter to the Human Rights Committee for its development of a list of issues on Nigeria, to be used in a future review of Nigeria’s human rights record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Drawing on particular case examples and analysis of current laws, the letter highlights that, because of their gender and disability, women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria face multiple layers of discrimination and stereotypes about their capabilities. As a result, they are denied access to sexual and reproductive health services, subjected to practices like forced sterilization, forced contraception, or forced abortion, and are more likely to experience gender-based violence. Women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria's conflict zones are also frequently left behind when violence comes to their communities, increasing their risk of experiencing gender-based violence, with little access to justice or services. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for questions the Human Rights Committee should include in its list of issues to Nigeria, which the Committee will develop in July 2018.

    WEI AWWDI LEDAP letter to HRC Nigeria List of Issues Submission FINAL.pdf

    WEI AWWDI LEDAP letter to HRC Nigeria List of Issues Submission FINAL.docx

  • January 31, 2018 Preliminary Shadow Letter on Poland to the CRPD Committee List of Issues

    WEI and Association for Women with Disabilities ONE.pl submitted a preliminary shadow letter on the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the CRPD Committee to assist the Committee in developing a list of important issues it should address with Poland during its upcoming review in September. This letter highlights gaps in Poland's state report to the CRPD Committee, including concerning gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive rights, legal capacity, and employment and discrimination. The letter further addresses three reservations that Poland made when it ratified the CRPD—on legal capacity, abortion, and the right to marry and found a family—which disproportionately affect the rights of women and girls with disabilities.

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee for Poland LOI FINAL Jan 31 2018.pdf

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee for Poland LOI FINAL Jan 31 2018.docx

  • January 31, 2018 Preliminary Shadow Letter on South Africa to the CRPD Committee List of Issues

    WEI, Cape Mental Health, Professor Helene Combrinck of North-West University, The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, and Lawyers for Human Rights submitted a preliminary shadow letter on the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the CRPD Committee to assist the Committee in developing a list of important issues it should address with South Africa during its upcoming review in September. This letter highlights gaps in South Africa's state report to the CRPD Committee, including concerning gender-based violence and access to services, sexual and reproductive rights care and violations, legal capacity, access to justice, and lack of data and statistics on women with disabilities

    South Africa CRPD LOI Submission Women with Disabilities Jan 31 2018 FINAL.pdf

    South Africa CRPD LOI Submission Women with Disabilities Jan 31 2018 FINAL.docx



  • November 30, 2017 WEI Comments to the CRPD Committee on its Draft General Comment No. 6 on Equality and Non-Discrimination

    Persons with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities, experience unique violations of their rights as a result of discrimination based on disability and other statuses. Some of these violations—including disability-based violence and violations in the context of sexual and reproductive rights—not only result from disability-based discrimination but are also distinct forms of discrimination. Through this submission WEI provides comments related to the rights of women and girls with disabilities to the CRPD Committee on its Draft General Comment on Equality and Non-Discrimination. These comments focus on three areas: (1) recognizing violence against persons with disabilities as a form of discrimination; (2) recognizing discrimination in the context of the right to health, particularly concerning the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities; and (3) better defining multiple and intersectional discrimination, particularly as it affects women and girls with disabilities. In the discussion on sexual and reproductive rights, WEI's comments address the issue of prenatal genetic testing, recommending that the CRPD Committee change language in the Draft General Comment to ensure that all women and girls, including women and girls with disabilities, have the information they need to exercise autonomy in the context of pregnancy.

    WEI Submission CRPD Draft GC6 Equality and Non-Discrimination FINAL November 30 2017.pdf

    WEI Submission CRPD Draft GC6 Equality and Non-Discrimination FINAL November 30 2017.docx


  • October 5, 2017  Women Enabled International's Comments to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights for his December 2017 visit to the United States

    In October 2017, Women Enabled International submitted comments to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights for his December 2017 visit to the United States. WEI's submission provides evidence about the disproportionate rate of poverty for women with disabilities in the United States and explores some of the causes and consequences of that poverty, including unemployment, lower wages, and less access to social protection income; gender-based violence; and lack of access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health services. The submission concludes with some suggestions about organizations the Special Rapporteur should contact during his visit, as well as questions he should ask the government and recommendations he should make to the US in his country visit report.

    WEI SR Extreme Poverty Submission on United States October 4, 2017 FINAL.pdf

    WEI SR Extreme Poverty Submission on United States October 4, 2017 FINAL.docx

  • January 30, 2017 Women Enabled International Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings on Domestic Violence and Infanticide Regarding Women and Girls with Disabilities.

    On January 30, 2017, WEI responded to a call for submissions by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Killing to support the Special Rapporteur’s efforts to incorporate a gender-sensitive approach to extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killing into her work. WEI’s submission provides information on the high rates of domestic violence that women and girls with disabilities face, and the lack of access to justice—factors that can elevate the risk of domestic violence escalating and leading to arbitrary killing. The submission also identifies factors that contribute to heightened rates of infanticide of children, and especially girls, with disabilities. The submission urges the Special Rapporteur to consider how different characteristics, such as disability, intersect with gender to expose women and girls to a heightened risk of arbitrary killings. The submission also identifies core state obligations to address the underlying factors that contribute to a heightened risk of women and girls with disabilities to arbitrary killings, including stigma, a lack of support for individuals with disabilities and their families, and issues surrounding access to protective and rehabilitative services and justice mechanisms for victims of gender-based violence with disabilities. The submission also highlights the challenges presented by the lack of disaggregated data on violence, femicide, and infanticide directed at women and girls with disabilities.

    WEI-Submission-to-SR-EJEs-on-Domestic-Violence-and-Infanticide-Women-and-Girls-with-Disabilities-January-30-2017-Final.pdf

    WEI-Submission-to-SR-EJEs-on-Domestic-Violence-and-Infanticide-Women-and-Girls-with-Disabilities-January-30-2017-Final.docx

  • November 12, 2016 WEI submitted this short report on the rights of girls with disabilities to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a forthcoming OHCHR report, Protection of the Rights of the Child and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While addressing the question, "What approaches to implementing the 2030 Agenda would ensure the protection of the rights of all children, and that no child is left behind?," this report examines the disparities that girls with disabilities face in accessing education and exercising the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health. It also notes the higher rates of violence, including gender-based violence, against girls with disabilities, as well as barriers they face in accessing justice and participating in accountability mechanisms. Finally, the report includes recommendations for how states can implement the Sustainable Development Goals in a way that respects, protects, and fulfills the human rights of girls with disabilities.

    WEI OHCHR Submission for Report on Child Rights and 2030 SDG Agenda October 17, 2016 Final.pdf

    WEI OHCHR Submission for Report on Child Rights and 2030 SDG Agenda October 17, 2016 Final.docx


  • November 12, 2016 WEI prepared this short submission on the rights of women and girls with psychosocial disabilities sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for a forthcoming OHCHR report on mental health and human rights. Following up on a Human Rights Council resolution on this topic, the OHCHR report will focus on violations of in the context of mental health provision and interpreting legal standards to ensure the respect, protection, and fulfillment of all human rights. WEI's submission focuses on violations faced disproportionately by women and girls with psychosocial disabilities, including forced and coerced reproductive health procedures, gender-based violence, and barriers to accessing justice. It also provides interpretations of relevant articles of the CRPD and other human rights conventions, with recommendations about how states should implement these conventions to tackle human rights abuses against women and girls with psychosocial disabilities.

    WEI OHCHR Mental Health and Human Rights October 31, 2016 FINAL.pdf

    WEI OHCHR Mental Health and Human Rights October 31, 2016 FINAL.docx


  • November 12, 2016 WEI--alongside local partners Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), and Inclusive Friends Association--submitted a shadow letter to the CEDAW Committee to help the Committee develop a list of issues for its forthcoming review of Nigeria. The letter highlights that, because of their disability and their gender, women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria face multiple layers of discrimination and stereotypes about their capabilities that mean they are given less priority in families, have less access to education, and are considered less eligible for marriage or to found families. Additionally, women and girls with disabilities are subjected to violence--particularly sexual violence--at higher rates, and in Nigeria's conflict zones, they are frequently left behind when violence comes to their communities, with little access to justice or services. Finally, women with disabilities find that sexual and reproductive health information and services, including those to prevent and address HIV, are not accessible to them and that stereotypes they do not have sex and cannot become parents are pervasive. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for the CEDAW Committee to include when developing the list of issues for its review of Nigeria's women's rights record and for concluding observations following the review in July 2017.

    WEI and Nigeria Partners, CEDAW LOI Submission Women with Disabilities October 14, 2016 FINAL.docx

    WEI and Nigeria Partners, CEDAW LOI Submission Women with Disabilities October 14, 2016 FINAL.pdf


  • October 2016 Three New Universal Periodic Review Submissions have been created.

  1. WEI and Women with Disabilities India Network Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council’s  Universal Periodic Review of India

    Women Enabled International, working with Women with Disabilities India Network, compiled this submission for India’s upcoming third Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Drawing on India’s international commitments, this submission focuses on violence against women with disabilities, access to sexual and reproductive health services, and access to justice. As the submission illustrates, women with disabilities in India disproportionately face violations of these rights, due to discrimination based on both their gender and disability and stereotypes about their capability, sexuality, and role within families. The submission provides targeted questions and recommendations on these topics for India’s UPR, which will take place in April/May 2017. 

    Read PDF WEI WWDIN India UPR Submission September 2016.pdf
    Read Word file WEI WWDIN India UPR Submission September 2016.docx

  2. WEI and Sisters of Frida Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    Women Enabled International and Sisters of Frida, a collective of women with disabilities in the UK, compiled this submission for the UK’s upcoming third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This submission focuses on the continuing problem of violence against women with disabilities in the UK, as they face higher rates of sexual violence and experience domestic violence at twice the rate of other women. Women with disabilities are also less likely to have the economic independence to leave an abuser, have fewer accessible options for support services, and face increased barriers to accessing justice, due to disability-related stereotypes and denials of reasonable accommodation. The submission provides targeted questions and recommendations on these topics for states to utilize during the UK’s UPR, which will take place in April/May 2017.

    Read PDF WEI and SOF UK UPR Submission September 2016.pdf
    Read Word file WEI and SOF UK UPR Submission September 2016.docx

  3. WEI Submission to the CEDAW Committee on its update to its General Recommendation No. 19 on Violence Against Women by WEI, with sign on support from eight non-governmental organizations around the world.

    This submission was drafted by Women Enabled International (WEI) and is endorsed by: Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) (Nigeria); Association of Disabled Women, ONE.pl (Poland); CREA (India); Handicap International's Making It Work Initiative on Gender and Disability (France); Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) (Nigeria); National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU); Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (India); Sisters of Frida (United Kingdom); and Women with Disabilities India Network (WWDIN).

    Based on the specific issues that women with disabilities experience when exercising their right to be free from violence, this submission provides targeted comments to the CEDAW Committee on its Draft update to General Recommendation No. 19 (1992): accelerating elimination of gender-based violence against women. These comments focus both on how to more explicitly include women with disabilities in the draft and also how to ensure that the draft’s provisions adequately address the barriers and issues that women with disabilities disproportionately face when exercising their right to be free from violence. As such, this submission provides both suggested amendments to the current paragraphs of the draft General Recommendation and suggestions for additional paragraphs and sections to include in the draft.

    The amendments suggested in this submission are important for our work on the rights of women with disabilities for several reasons. Although many of the countries that have ratified CEDAW have also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the CRPD Committee recently issued a general comment on the rights of women and girls with disabilities that addresses gender-based violence, there is not a perfect overlap between states parties to the two conventions. Additionally, although the CRPD Committee has weighed in on many of the issues that lead to violence against women with disabilities—including denying them legal capacity and arbitrarily detaining them in institutions, based on disability—many states have not fully adopted the human rights-based approach to these issues and still allow, and frequently legally permit, these violations to take place. As the CEDAW Committee is the human rights leader in efforts to eliminate violence against women, many states and our organizations would benefit from the CEDAW Committee’s additional guidance on these issues. Finally, by ensuring that women with disabilities are better included in the updated General Recommendation No. 19, the CEDAW Committee will be recognizing the unique experiences of women with disabilities while also including them in the framework of women’s rights, helping to reduce stigma targeted at women with disabilities by ensuring that their experiences are no longer invisible and that they are fully recognized as women and as rights holders.

    Read PDF WEI CEDAW GR19 Update Submission September 30 2016.pdf
    Read Word file WEI CEDAW GR19 Update Submission September 30 2016.docx

  • September 2016 New publication on violence against children with disabilities
    Plan International has released new research on violence against children with disabilities and their access to protection. The study entitled “Protect us! Inclusion of children with disabilities in child protection” was conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It documents the extremely high levels of school-based violence against children with disabilities and identifies important barriers within the child protection system which stop children with disabilities from reporting violence and getting support, and also offers recommendations. An accessible, executive summary and the full report is available for download at this link: http://plan-international.org/protect-us

  • December 2015 WEI Comments on United States Department of Justice Guidance on Gender-Biased Policing: Who's Missing?Disabled Women Say: Although there is much to commend in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance on gender-biased policing for women generally, once again, women with disabilities are missing and ignored! The sadly cursory treatment of the issues confronting women with disabilities in situations of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence and assault is very disheartening and devastating to the lives of the thousands of disabled women in the United States who may call on the police for assistance.
    Read the report.

  • July 26, 2015 WEI's submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities draft General Comment on Article 6 on women, raising the myriad human rights issues raised by the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that women with disabilities encounter, focusing on gender-based violence as a pernicious manifestation of such discrimination, noting that women with disabilities experience gender-based violence at a magnitude greater than women without disabilities, and women with disabilities face numerous barriers to ending the cycle of violence and accessing justice, WEI clarifies States' due diligence obligations with respect to gender-based violence committed against women with disabilities by both state and private actors and provides an overview of barriers that women with disabilities face in accessing justice and identifies States' obligations to respond to such violence, and then WEI concludes with recommendations for strengthening the language of the draft General Comment to provide greater clarity on these obligations.

    Read WEI's submission in MS Word
    Read WEI's submission in PDF
    Read the CRPD Committee's Draft General Comment
  • March 16, 2015  Accusations of Witchcraft & Women & Girls with Disabilities, Women Enabled International president Stephanie Ortoleva statement at CSW59, March 2015. Download PDF | Download Word Doc
  • Dec 3, 2014   New post on the Center for Women's Global Leadership blog
    Women Enabled President Stephanie Ortoleva: Women and Girls with Disabilities Must Be No Longer the 'Forgotten Sisters!'
    .
    As we discuss the impacts of violence and militarism on our lives and the women, peace and security framework, we must not forget women and girls with disabilities and effects of the intersections of gender and disability, the ‘forgotten sisters” in these discussions! Women with disabilities work for peace in the home to peace in the world: We challenge militarism and seek to end gender-based violence against all women! December 3, International Day for Persons with Disabilities, falls in the midst of the 16 Days Campaign, stressing that gender-based violence is an international human rights violation, affecting all women, including women with disabilities. Read more...
  • September 13, 2014 Submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review by Women Enabled International and Center for Reproductive Rights
    In collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Women Enabled International submitted this report to the Human Rights Council for use in its review of the United States. Our submission focuses on human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in the United States, specifically violence and interference with sexual and reproductive rights. Women Enabled International participated in the United States Government's consultations with Civil Society as the United States prepares for its review by the HRC. 

    Read Women Enabled International & Center for Reproductive Rights' Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (PDF) 

    Read Women Enabled International & Center for Reproductive Rights' Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (Word docx file) 

  • September 22, 2014 Submission to the Committee Against Torture by Center for Reproductive Rights, Women Enabled International, and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. This submission focuses on how three groups of women who face multiple forms of discrimination in the U.S. are disproportionately subjected to severe physical or mental suffering that amounts to torture or ill-treatment in the exercise of their reproductive rights: (1) poor, rural and immigrant women in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas who are denied reproductive health care; (2) immigrant women in detention who are denied access to reproductive health care and subjected to shackling; and (3) women and girls with disabilities who are subject to forced or coerced sterilization.  Women Enabled International participated in the United States Government's consultations with Civil Society as the U.S. prepares for its review by the CAT Committee. 

    Read Submission to the Committee Against Torture by Center for Reproductive Rights, Women Enabled International, and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (PDF) 

  • August 10, 2014 At the recent American Bar Association meeting, Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, was awarded the International Human Rights Award. In her 2013 UN Report, she calls for enhanced international normative law and explores the gap in binding international legal framework.
    Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (PDF)

    Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (Word doc)
    Or view the report on the official list of reports for the 26th session of the UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
  • August 6, 2014 The U.S. Department of Education issued proposed amendments to its regulations on sexual harassment and assault on college and university campuses and a "Questions and Answers" document on sexual assault and violence on college campuses and the Title IX regulations. Read Women Enabled's Comments on the Proposed U.S. Department of Education Title IX Regulations (PDF) (Word doc)

    Official hyperlink to these comments: http://1.usa.gov/1l3dMdE

    Read the U.S. Department of Education Proposed Title IX regulations

    And see the U.S. Department of Education's "Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence"

    And see the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault Report
  • April 15, 2014 Human Rights Committee Ignores Violence Against Women with Disabilities in U.S. ICCPR Concluding Observations
    Ignoring our advocacy, the UN Human Rights Committee in its Concluding Observations on its review of the United States under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR) ignored violence against women and girls with disabilities. On March 27, the Human Rights Committee's Concluding Observations highlighted violence against women as a serious concern and stated:
  • "The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26) The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women."

  • Despite the fact that the U.S. Government's own statistics highlight the fact that women and girls with disabilities are three times more likely than other women to experience such violence and despite the fact that the U.S. Government cut its inadequate funding for programs to address violence against women with disabilities under the Violence Against Women Act and despite the fact that most domestic violence programs and support services are inaccessible to women with disabilities, the Human Rights Committee did not include us in their list of groups disproportionately affected by violence. These facts about violence against women with disabilities were highlighted in a shadow report on the U.S. in which Women enabled participated. In that report, we stated:
  • "Additionally, it is critical for the United States to address how to end violence against women with disabilities because they are an increasing population and constitute a significant portion of the United States' populace. Women with disabilities are at a higher risk of being victims of violence. According to DOJ statistics for 2011, the rate of violence against women with disabilities was three times the rate of violence against women without disabilities: 53 in 1,000 for women with disabilities , compared to 17 in 1,000 for females without disabilities. Despite these shocking statistics, funding for disability-specific programs authorized under VAWA was reduced from $10 million to $9 million."

  • April 9, 2014 DAWN-RAFH Canada working to increase access to justice for women with disabilities and deaf women who are victims of crime In recognition of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week April 6-12, the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada / Réseau d'action des femmes handicapées (DAWN-RAFH Canada) is launching a campaign aimed at informing women with disabilities and Deaf women about their right to report abuse and to have their abusers tried in court. Entitled "We Can Tell and We Will" the campaign includes a Public Service Announcement (PSA) which depicts two women with intellectual disabilities and one with a communication difference describing abuse and stating that abuse is unacceptable. The PSA encourages women with disabilities to report abuse and informs them that there are advocates who can support them to do so. The campaign is designed to bring attention to the precedent-setting decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, a court case referred to as the D.A.I. case. It involved a woman with an intellectual disability who reported that her step-father had sexually assaulted her. The provincial court disallowed her testimony on the grounds that she was not competent to testify because she could not demonstrate that she understood the meaning of an "oath" or a "promise" in order to tell the truth. As a result, the accused was acquitted.

    Read the press release in English here
    Lire la suite du communiqué ici français

  • March 5, 2014 The DisAbled Women's Network of Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada) has launched a new resource aimed at understanding and addressing violence against women with disAbilities and Deaf women. roduced in collaboration with The Learning Centre at University of Western Ontario's Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, this Resource and Educational Tool highlights the context of violence experienced by women with disabilities and provides statistics and important resources. Based on both research and the lived experiences of women with disAbilities and Deaf women, this publication sheds light on the range of ways in which women with disAbilities experience violence – physical, sexual, psychological, and financial at the individual level, as well as naming ableism and audism as forms of violence against women with disAbilities and Deaf women. It has been translated into French, ASL, and LSQ (Langue des signes québécoise) and can be found at DAWN-RAFH Canada's website or you can visit the Learning Network website

  • February 17, 2014 The India Network of Women with Disabilities and other colleagues collaborated for an exciting event for the One Billion Rising campaign in Delhi, India, highlighting violence against women and girls with disabilities through the life cycle.

2 men on a 3-wheeled motorbike on a crowded wet street in India hold up a sign that reads Inlcusion & Equality as a woman who is also holding a sign looks on.   Several men and women in India, some in wheelchairs, smile and hold signs that read Rise for Justice, Accessibility and Equality, and I Stand for Inclusion not Exclusion, among others.   Several men and women, some in wheelchairs, in India cheer and hold a large banner that reads Equality & Inclusion Women with Disabilities India Network

  • February 13, 2014 This "V-Day," stand in support of the billion women around the world who are survivors of violence and rape. As you follow the One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign in the news tomorrow, we'd like to share a perspective from Hesperian’s  Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities.

    "Disabled women and girls are even more likely to be abused, hurt, or sexually assaulted than non-disabled women. A woman's disability never makes violence, abuse, or neglect OK. Women with disabilities deserve to live in safety, with people who care about them and treat them well." (p. 287)

    Access to accurate information about violence and how to seek support are critically important for women with disabilities experiencing violence from a partner, family member, caretaker, or colleague. A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities contains clear information about different kinds of abuse, preventing abuse, support for women seeking to leave a violent relationship, rape, abuse in institutions, and ideas to help women be safer from violence. Learn how you can take part in the world-wide movement of men and women working to end gender-based violence. Available in our free HealthWiki in English and just released in Spanish, this title is screen-reader accessible in the HealthWiki for people with visual impairments.

  • February 13, 2014 Non-partner sexual violence against women common worldwide Lancet study finds. One in 14 women around the world aged 15 or older has been sexually assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner, according to a new study by an international team of researchers. But even that disturbing number is probably a low estimate, the study points out, because sexual violence often goes unreported as a result of women’s fear of being blamed and a lack of support from families and communities.  “Sexual violence against women is common worldwide, with endemic levels seen in some areas,” write the study’s authors.  “Our findings,” they add, “indicate a pressing health and human rights concern.”

    Read the full study here: Worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence: a systematic review : The Lancet

    Read a report on the study on the Minnpost website.

  • January 17, 2014 In an article entitled “Three-pronged Fight for Disability Rights,” on Friday, January 17, 2014, India Telegraph reporter Mohua Das interviewed Women enabled President Stephanie Ortoleva and her India colleagues on their collaborative  project on addressing violence  against women and girls with disabilities.  Das noted that “… a Skype session last summer with two activists half the world away found Stephanie bonding over a common goal:  empowering women with disabilities.”  Stephanie Ortoleva from Women Enabled, Inc. in the United States, and Jeeja Gosh from the Indian Institute for Cerebral Palsy and Anamitra Mukherjee from Swayam(it works to prevent violence against women) are working together on a project to bring together women’s rights organizations and disability rights organizations so that women’s rights organizations can more effectively  work with women and girls with disabilities who are surviving violence and so that disability rights organizations can better understand the threats of gender-based violence facing women and girls with disabilities.  The collaborators are developing training modules for various stakeholders which will be used throughout India and hopefully beyond as this innovative collaborative effort moves forward.  Stephanie, Jeeja and Anamitra outlined various myths about women and girls with disabilities and then rebutted each one. Follow this link to read the story online.

  • Dec 16, 2013 A year after the Delhi gang rape, what has changed for women and girls with disabilities?

    On December 16, 2012, a brutal crime sent shock waves across India and throughout the world. The issue of violence against women was thrown into the spotlight.  But the violence against women with disabilities only received minimal attention during this debate.

    The Indian Government appointed the Justice Verma Committee to consider what amendments to Indian law were necessary.  Women Enabled, Inc. submitted Recommendations to this Committee, encouraging that specific provisions must address violence against women with disabilities.  India later enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 to address the long history of violence following this brutal rape.

    Regrettably, this new law fell short of the needed changes, since it fails to incorporate several significant concerns regarding women with disabilities:

    –    Provision of adequate and appropriate counseling facilities for women with disabilities
    –    Rehabilitation for women with disabilities after sexual and gender-based violence
    –    Supervision and monitoring of institutions in which women and girls with disabilities live to ensure that complaints of violence are addressed
    –    Provision of training for law enforcement officials and judges regarding violence against women and girls with disabilities
    –    Data collection (desegrated by both disability and gender) and analysis of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence against women with disabilities

    Safety of women and girls with disabilities is central to our economic empowerment and thus essential for India's development.

    Women Enabled, Inc. will travel to India in January 2014 to provide, in collaboration with our partners in India, training to women’s rights organizations and disability rights organizations regarding violence against women with disabilities and how these organizations can more effectively collaborate to address this pervasive violence.

    Your donation of $50, $75 or $100 can help us provide these training sessions to an even greater number in 2014.  Your contribution is greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your ongoing support of women and girls with disabilities. Women Enabled, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization with U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) status.

  • Dec 6, 2013 Read UN WOMEN'S HANDBOOK FOR NATIONAL ACTION PLANS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 2012 This Handbook provides guidance on what should be included in a Government's National Action Plan on Violence Against Women.  Note that there are some references to women with disabilities in this document!
  • Dec 6, 2013 CEDAW Committee during its review of Columbia issued a recommendation to the government on forced sterilization of women and girls with disabilities under the CEDAW's article on Health. Read the CEDAW Committee Report and the Shadow Report.
  • November 24, 2013 November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The 16 Days of Activism end on International Human Rights Day, December 10. Women Enabled joins in this campaign, reminding us that women with disabilities are women, too and, like all women, women with disabilities experience violence!  Read our Report:  Forgotten Sisters – A Report on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. The World Health Organization highlights 16 key facts on intimate partner and sexual violence against women and girls.
  • September 24, 2013 Legal Momentum, the Advocates for Human Rights, the Human Rights Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law, and Women Enabled, Inc. ("U.S. Women's Rights Organizations") submitted a shadow report on violence against women in the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and called for the Committee to recommend significant improvements to U.S. law and policy.

    Stephanie Ortoleva, President, Women Enabled, Inc. noted the shadow report's conclusions with respect to violence against women with disabilities and stated: "Additionally, it is critical for the United States to address how to end violence against women with disabilities because they are an increasing population and Women with disabilities are at a significantly higher risk of being victims of violence, three times the rate of violence against women without disabilities, according to DOJ statistics. Shockingly, funding for disability-specific programs authorized under VAWA was reduced by 10% in 2013."

    Women Enabled worked extensively with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Hon. Rashida Manjoo, in her 2010-2011 mission to the United States to document the state of anti-domestic violence programs and also worked with her in 2012 to document gender-based and sexual violence against women with disabilities. Women Enabled, Inc. co-authored a ground-breaking report on violence against women with disabilities: Forgotten Sisters – A Report on Violence Against Women with Disabilities: An Overview of its Nature, Scope, Causes and Consequences (Aug. 21, 2012).

    - Read the ICCPR Women's Group Shadow Report on the U.S., 2013:  PDF     DOC

    - Read the Press Release: Women's Rights Groups Call on U.S. to Improve Response to Domestic Violence and Gun Violence  PDF DOC
  • Myra Kovary, "Interdependence: Including Women with Disabilities in the Agenda of the Women's Movement: Our Fears, Realities, Hopes, and Dreams", UN 5th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, September 13, 2012. Read the article: PDF DOC
  • Read a new article by Stephanie Ortoleva (President, Women Enabled) in The Diplomatic Courier March - April 2013 issue. Read article

    About the article: Every year around International Women's Day, hundreds of women and allies from around the world gather in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Unfortunately, not all women are as welcome as others. For many years, women with disabilities who want to engage at CSW—women who want their experiences respected, their contributions valued, and most of all, their rights reflected in the resolutions and Final Conclusions—have struggled with this experience. Despite the implications for millions of women and girls with disabilities and their families, issues concerning them receive only limited coverage, if any, in influential official research and other preparations for CSW. There is scant inclusion in side events, other than those few organized by women with disabilities themselves. CSW can contribute to a more inclusive and effective awareness of discrimination against all women by welcoming women with disabilities to the table. The article discusses the nature, scope, causes and consequences of violence against women and girls with disabilities and outlines the strategies used by women with disabilities to ensure inclusion in the discussions and outcomes of CSW57, where the priority theme is violence against women.
  • EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT Join Women Enabled at the UN Commission on the Status of women (CSW57) in NYC for Panel on Gender Stereotyping - Gender Violence, Friday, March 8, 10:30 am to noon, Church Center for the UN, Chapel, 1st floor, 777 United Nations Plaza – Featuring Professor Rashida Manjoo, UN Special rapporteur on Violence Against Women. View Event flyer.
  • EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT Join Women enabled at the UN Commission on the Status of women (CSW57) in NYC for High Level Panel on Violence Against Women and girls with Disabilities, Friday, March 8, 1:15-2:30 pm UN Conference room 7, featuring Madam Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women. Advanced reservations required, e-mail: Jeong Lee at jeong.lee@unwomen.org Event flyer coming soon.
  • February 2013 Following the horrific gang rape and murder of a woman as she road a bus, as well as numerous violent rapes of women in India, the Indian Government appointed the Justice Verma  committee to make recommendations for legal reforms.  Following the Report of this Committee, the Government adopted several legislative reforms, but the new law fell short of the needed changes.  The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled condemns the process in which the Indian Government enacted its new sexual offences law incorporating some of the amendments recommended by the Justice Verma Committee, but the law fails to incorporate several significant concerns regarding women with disabilities. Click here to read the press statement of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled.
  • January 2013 Women Enabled strongly urges the Indian Government Commission on legal reform of laws on rape & violence against women to include women with disabilities.   Click here to read our letter.
  • August 2012 Special rapporteur Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, releases new ground-breaking report on violence against women with disabilities. Notes: despite normative legal frameworks on  both the human rights of women & of persons with disabilities, impact of combined effects of both gender & disability not gained sufficient attention,& violence remains largely unaddressed& at shockingly high rates, Intersecting & multiple forms of discrimination exacerbates this violence, and  a social model of disability must be utilized.  Click here to read.
  • August 2012 Stephanie Ortoleva and Hope Lewis release a new study “Forgotten Sisters - A Report on Violence against Women with Disabilities:  An Overview of Its Nature, Scope, Causes and Consequences” August 2012. Despite the evolution of normative frameworks concerning both the human rights of women and of persons with disabilities, the impact of the combined effects of both gender and disability have not gained sufficient attention with respect to preventing and ending violence against women and girls with disabilities and the violence remains at shockingly high rates.  The Report calls on international organizations, especially those focused on women’s rights such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women (which will consider as its priority thematic issue violence against women at its 57th session in March 2013) and UN Women, and the international community, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to join us in the effort to highlight these critical issues and end the violence.
  • October 2011 VIDEO: UN Special Rapporteur On Violence Against Women 10/11/2011 – NOW on YouTube

    I am pleased to announce that, in cooperation with the National Organization for Women’s Global Feminist Committee, the National NOW Officers  and other international women’s human rights colleagues, we are pleased to present a video by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Rashida Manjoo Esq., discussing the report she made to the U.N. General Assembly on Oct. 10, 2011 about the situation of violence against women in the United States.



    Or view the video on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjBAWt9h5n8

    The report of the Special Rapporteur is a result of her information-gathering mission to the U.S. and contains findings about military violence, violence against women in detention, violence against Native American women, gun violence and its impact on women, and remedies for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as extensive recommendations to the U.S. Government.  The report can be read here.

    This webinar was the result of the efforts of Erin Matson, NOW VP Action, Terry O’Neill, NOW President, Jan Erickson, NOW Government Relations Expert, NOW’s Global Feminist Committee and Deena Hurwitz, Associate Professor of Law, Director, International Human Rights Law Clinic and Human Rights Program, University of Virginia.

    and please see the fruit of a year's hard work by many, many dedicated advocates at nearly 20 different NGOs - the compiled briefing papers on violence against women in the U.S. , Community, Military, native women, gun violence  and Custody - PDF available at www.law.virginia.edu/vaw

  • June 2011 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics Speaks Out Against Non-Consentual Forced Sterilization of Women with Disabilities
  • March 2011 “Violence Against Women with Disabilities” by The International Network of Women with Disabilities.
  • October 2010 N SCR 1325 Panel:

    UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Permanent Mission of Mexico
    and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein

    Our Forgotten Sisters: Women with Disabilities inSituations of Conflict

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Moderators: 
    Akiko Ito, Chief, Secretariat on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and Stephanie Ortoleva, Esq., Senior Human Rights Legal Advisor, BlueLaw International and Adjunct Professor, American University Center for Global Peace 

    Panelists:
    Patience Stephens, Special Assistant to the UN Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women
    Shantha Rau Barriga, Disability Rights Researcher/Advocate, Human Rights Watch
    Dale Buscher, Director of Protection, Women’s Refugee Commission
    Maria Veronica Reina, Executive Director, Global Partnership on Disability and Development

    PDF: Summary of the event

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