Project Alert makes case for women living with disability in Nigeria
Many women with disability in Nigeria suffer abuse, exclusion and discrimination. Most times, they are victims of violence from care givers and family members who are supposed to take care of them.
To address this issue of gender-based violence as it affects women with disabilities, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Christoffel Blinden Mission, CBM Office Nigeria And Disability Rights Advocacy Centre, DRAC recently held a programme tagged ‘Networking to stop violence against women and girls with disabilities project.’
The project shed more light on the violence suffered by women living with disabilities. The project is aimed at creating awareness on the various forms of violence, discrimination and exclusion that women with disabilities are subjected to in Lagos and in Nigeria as a whole.
According to Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, “the project is about networking with all stakeholders in the society to create awareness and increase knowledge on gender based violence and women with disabilities.”
She said while all women are susceptible to gender based violence, for women with disabilities, the risk is multiplied by three. Their gender exposes them to Gender-based violence, their disability adds to it and then their financial status triples it.
Effah-Chukwuma said that, “While all people with disabilities encounter discrimination and exclusion, women with disabilities suffer second level discrimination and violence because of their sex, disabilities and poor financial status.”
She stated that while society expects such women not to be sexually active because of their disabilities, they are raped, physically abused, maltreated, abandoned and sometimes killed because of their dependency on people including family members who assist them in doing things.
In this light, a two-day event took place on the 27th and 28th of September, 2017 to educate the public on the plight of women living with disabilities. Traditional rulers were involved in this campaign too because they have followers and many people listen to them.
“This project will get traditional rulers and religious leaders involved by sensitizing them and by so doing, increase awareness on gender-based violence and women with disabilities in their communities in particular and Nigerian as a whole, she said.”
Lagos State Government Intervention
The Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) was established by the Lagos State Special People’s Law (LSSPL) in June 2011.The Governing Board was inaugurated on the 9th of July 2012 and charged with implementing the Law.
The Law seeks to uphold the rights of all persons living with any form of disability (PWDs) in Lagos State by safeguarding them against all forms of discrimination and giving them equal rights and opportunities.
The Lagos State Special People’s Law include advocacy, public enlightenment and reorientation of the public, registration and coordination of associations of PWDs in Lagos State as well as establishment of a PWDs database to ensure proper planning.
Facts about gender-based violence and women with disabilities
Over 24 million Nigerians are living with one form of disability and more 50% of this population are women and girls. Women and girls with disabilities are three times at risk of suffering physical, asexual, psychological and economic abuse than women without disabilities.
Women and girls with disabilities are prone to violence than men with disabilities. These women and girls are abused by their care givers, parents, family members and health workers.
Women and girls with disabilities do not report abuse due to fear of being accused of lying or being stigmatized. They also vulnerable to HIV because of sexual abuse and they do not have access to retro-viral drugs.
Women and girls with disabilities are usually isolated, locked in a room and refused access to things that will make life comfortable for them. They are also used for begging, thereby depriving them of opportunities for education. In many cases, their disability is seen as a curse.
Myths about women with disabilities
Women with disability should not speak or be heard. They don’t have sexual feelings or don’t have sex. Women with disabilities cannot get married and be mothers. Women and girls with disability can neither go to school or work. Disability can be transferred by relating with persons with disability.