Gender-based violence (GBV)

Women with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be physically or sexually abused than women without disabilities. Additionally, women with disabilities also experience physical and psychological violence and abuse and neglect that take on forms specific to women with disabilities, for example, withholding medication or food and water, withholding access to assistive devices, removing ramps, refusal of caregivers to assist with daily living.

When seeking help and support and reporting incidences of abuse and violence women with disabilities experience many barriers accessing services including in the justice system.

Resources in this section include evidence and research relating to violence against women with disabilities, and practical examples of ways development programs can ensure that women with disabilities are included in programs that address gender based violence.

See also: Child Protection, Sexual and reproductive health, Law and Justice.

CBM Australia (2022) What’s stopping women with disabilities from reporting gender-based violence report

Women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence than women without a disability and are less likely to disclose incidents of sexual violence and domestic abuse. CBM Australia’s partner the Cameroon Baptist Convention recently undertook a research project to better understand what stops women and girls with disabilities in the Northwest region of Cameroon from reporting incidents of sexual violence and domestic abuse. This report highlights what they found and offers recommendations for civil society groups, and local and international humanitarian actors responding to gender-based violence. The recommendations are relevant in many developing country contexts, including in emergencies.

Gupta, J., Cardoso, L.F., Ferguson, G. et al (2018) Disability status, intimate partner violence and perceived social support among married women in three districts of the Terai region of Nepal

This study outlines how women with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to intimate partner violence (IPV), and that there is a correlation of the severity of impairment with the likelihood of intimate partner violence. This study highlights how research on IPV towards women with disabilities are usually focused in high-income countries and treats all disabilities as homogeneous - thereby not recognising the range of impairment and experiences. While the sources of social support is limited, this is also dependent on the severity of impairment - the more severe the impairment, the less in-law support the woman is likely to receive.

Women's Refugee Commission and UNICEF (2018) Guidance on disability inclusion for GBV (gender based violence) partners n Lebanon: outreach, safe identification, and referral of women, children and youth with disabilities.

This guidance note and toolkit came out of a needs assessment amongst staff in child protection and GBV programs in Lebanon in 2017, which highlighted that women and girls with disabilities in Lebanon were a significant sub-group of the refugee population that were at greater risk of sexual and gender based violence than their peers, and a recognition that staff needed help with strategies to better support and include them. The toolkit has been contextualised for Lebanon but most of the tools would be easily adaptable to other contexts and is at a very practical level for front line workers. This would be a good resource for program managers to recommend to implementing partners.

Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA), New Delhi, India, 2012 Count Me In! Research Report on Violence Against Disabled, Lesbian, and Sex-working Women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal

This research report can be used as a resource by policy-makers to increase understanding of the causes and consequences of violence when gender identities intersect with other identities based on sexuality, disability, or occupation inform policies. It is filling a gap in the evidence about or from South Asia and the policy recommendations can be considered by policymakers with a stake in addressing violence against marginalised women to inform inclusive policies that take on board the lived experiences of women who sell sex, women who have a disability, and women who are lesbian. The researchers noted that on the spectrum of marginalisation, there are many more categories of women, and choosing to focus on only these three groups was a difficult process, and a limitation of the study.

Humanity & Inclusion (2018) Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa.

This document provides a sample of case studies of good practice for addressing violence against women and girls with disabilities from across several countries in Africa. The case studies are submitted and reviewed by a technical advisory board according to a methodology called ‘Making It Work’ developed by Humanity & Inclusion. The case studies are reviewed against the following criteria: 1. Demonstrable impact 2. Replicability 3. Sustainability 4. Efficiency 5. Person centred 6. Confirming to the general principles of the CRPD. These case studies can be useful for reviewing project proposals and for providing ideas to implementing partners as to how they can integrate protection from GBV for women and girls with disabilities, into their programs.

Pacific Disability Forum (2014) Toolkit on Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Fiji

This training toolkit has been prepared by Disabled Peoples Organisations in Fiji to address violence against women and girls with disabilities. It provides a set of tools for organisations working in the area of ending violence against women and girls and particularly those providing training on this issue. The toolkit includes 5 modules with facilitator notes, additional information and worksheets to run the sessions. It is useful to share with mainstream EVAW programs to assist them consider disability inclusion in their programs and could be used as a prototype for similar toolkits that might be developed and adapted to the cultural context in other countries.

The Asia Foundation (2016) Understanding Violence against Women and Children in Timor-Leste: Findings from the Nabilan Baseline Study - Summary Report

This summary report outlines the key findings of research conducted in 2015 on Violence against Women in Timor-Leste. The report presents evidence from both male and female respondents on the scale and severity of violence against women as well as evidence on the beliefs, past experiences and other factors that increase the risk of violence against women. The research revealed that 59 per cent of women aged 15-49 in Timor-Leste have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 47 per cent in the 12 months before the interview. The research found a strong link between violence and disability: women with disabilities in Timor-Leste were 2-3 times more likely to have experienced physical or sexual violence than women without disabilities. Intimate partner violence was also closely associated with women experiencing poorer mental health. The report provides a range of recommendations on how to strengthen Ending Violence Against Women programs,

Human Rights Watch (2010) "As if We Weren't Human" Discrimination and Violence against Women with Disabilities in Northern Uganda

This in-depth report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in six districts in Northern Uganda in 2010. It describes the challenges in post-conflict settings in relation to the protection of women with disabilities against violence, and outlines the obligation to respect the rights of people with disabilities under international, regional and national legal frameworks. The contextual barriers to protection, as well as the obstacles to participation, inclusion and access to justice, provide important and relevant lessons for other post-conflict settings. Key recommendations provided to the government of Uganda and other stakeholders could be relevant for donors working either directly or through partners with other States in post-conflict settings to eliminate violence against women with disabilities.

IWDA Triple Jeopardy: Resources

This website hosts a number of resources developed by IWDA, Monash University, CBM-Nossal Institute Partnership in Disability and Development, Banteay Srei (a Cambodian DPO) during the ‘Triple Jeopardy’ participatory research project on gender-based violence and human rights violations experienced by women with disabilities in Cambodia. Resources include a toolkit, comprising 6 modules that are intended for use at the community level in programs addressing discrimination against women. A policy brief is also available, along with posters, case studies and a pamphlet for use at the community level. Intended for and tested in the Cambodia context, these resources could be adapted for use in other contexts.

Astbury J and Walji F (2013) Triple Jeopardy: Gender-based violence and human rights violations experienced by women with disabilities in Cambodia

This working paper reports on a participatory research project conducted through a partnership between five research organisations: Banteay Srei, a Cambodian women’s rights NGO; the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation; CBM-Australia; IWDA; and Monash University. Though Cambodia-specific the report provides examples of how participatory research can inform policy development on gender-based violence.

Manjoo R (2012) Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

This is the second report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences to the United Nations General Assembly. Bringing together information from a number of resources, it is useful for gaining a broad understanding of the issue of violence against women with disabilities, including causes and consequences. The document also recommends measures to eliminate violence against women at national and regional levels.

Humanity & Inclusion Source: Key list resources on gender and disability

This key list presents information about gender and disability. Resources featured include key policy and rights documents, reports and country studies that highlight the situation of women with disabilities and gender-related development initiatives. This key list has a number of practical resources that programmers and implementers could use when working to address inclusion of women with disabilities. Information relating to sexual health and violence issues is also available.

This case study details GBV service provider mapping exercises in Zimbabwe, conducted by Deaf Women International, to identify the existing services and assess the extent that they are accessible for people with disabilities, as well as the understanding of service providers’ knowledge of disability inclusion in service delivery.

CBM Australia (2013) End the cycle- Naomi Tai’s story

This three minute video clip is presented by Naomi Tai, a young woman from Solomon Islands who shares her experiences of exclusion and inclusion as a person with a disability. She also discusses the issue of violence against women with disabilities in Solomon Islands. This video could be used to stimulate discussion about violence against women with disabilities with any development stakeholders, but would need to be supplemented with additional resources to support key messages.

There are no video link available

Picture of a group of 7 women from Cambodia sitting in a meeting room.  The woman to the front of the picture is a wheelchair user. She is holding a picture and speaking. The other women are all listening to her.

Photo: Nina Vallins, 2012

Women with and without disabilities participate in a workshop as part of the "Triple Jeopardy" research project on violence against women with disabilities in Cambodia. The women, in Battambang, are testing a workshop manual developed to challenge discrimination against women with disabilities. Here, a member of the Battambang Disabled People’s Organisation reports back to the group. For more information on "Triple Jeopardy" click here. Copyright: IWDA