South Sudan has unprecedented levels of violence against women with disabilities. Majority of them are exposed to various forms of violence throughout their lifetime. Due to the intersecting factors of being a woman, disabled, illiterate, and poor, they face precarious situations where they cannot help themselves in both the family and community.
This is exactly how gender, poverty and disability intersect in women’s experiences of violence during their lifetimes. They experience it 6 to 10 times more than their counterparts without disabilities. Most forms of violence they experience are physical, psychological, emotional, financial abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and deprivation, with disability stigma playing a central role and contributing to how they are exploited and dehumanized.
The construction of women with disabilities as none sexual shape their sexual relationships and experiences of sexual violence. Therefore, they are at a very high risk and experience additional layers of violence than women without disabilities.
These additional risks and layers of violence always go unnoticed and unreported due to societal negative attitude, and inaccessibility to the gender-based violence units in the police station across South Sudan, which has left them behind in accessing GBV support services.
The lack of sign language interpreters, limited access to GBV information, and the negative attitude of the GBV support service providers towards women with disabilities exacerbates their vulnerability to violence in their communities.
The perpetrators of violence against women with disabilities are normally their close family and community members that take the advantage of them, not seeing, hearing, and having limited mobility to commit acts of abuses against them.
As result of the above forms of violence, women with disabilities face severe consequence like death, self- isolation, self-blame, poverty, infection, STI, unwanted pregnancy, and many other.
They need to be empowered and protected so that they can speak out and report any act of violence whenever they find themselves in situations of abuse. When they report and an intervention is taken against the perpetrators, they will refrain from committing acts of violence against women with disabilities.
An intervention to mitigate and respond to violence against women should be inclusive of women with disabilities in south sudan. The prevention of violence against women with disabilities in South Sudan needs to address the role of disability stigma that shapes the types of violence they experience, change gender norms, and create accessible and safe environment and economic empowerment opportunities.
I am appealing to the government, international and national organizations to promote gender and disability mainstreaming and social inclusion in their GBV programming. This is to ensure that women with disabilities are protected from all forms of violence they experience on daily bases.
For further information on how to deal with women with disabilities that are experiencing gender-based violence in the community, seek for advice from the different organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDS)in Juba and across South Sudan on how to provide an inclusive service to survivors with disabilities.
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