Respect, Not Abuse: Tackling Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Nigeria

Country: Nigeria
Category: Inclusion & rights

 

Icon showing a man attacking a woman in a wheelchair. Text reads: Stop violence against women with disabilities.

In Nigeria, women and girls with disabilities are up to three times more likely to encounter gender-based violence than other women. In particular, they experience higher levels of domestic violence and sexual assault, usually from male partners or relatives. The abuse, and long term impact, can be both physical and psychological.

Perpetrators of domestic violence maintain power and control in situations of abuse and are therefore unlikely to leave the home. Because it may be more difficult for a person with a disability to leave the home, or because the abuser is also a carer, many disabled women remain trapped in an abusive home. As with many other parts of the world, domestic violence in Nigeria is often seen as a private matter and so victims feel unable to report abuse or seek support; and family and friends find it difficult to intervene. Fear or blame or stigma means women and girls’ experience of violence often remains hidden from those close to them.

Additionally, whilst national law in Nigeria bans most violence, there are still other laws that allow for some forms of domestic violence. Disabled women also face barriers to accessing the justice system, meaning that they are unprotected and perpetrators escape justice.

CBM is working with Nigerian NGO Disability Rights Advocacy Service (DRAC) to reduce violence against women and girls with disabilities and increase their access to justice. DRAC was founded by Irene Ojiugo Patrick-Ogbogu, herself a wheelchair user.

“It is almost a nightmare, because of the attitudes, the barriers, and the lack of legal framework.” Irene told CBM “I want to see change happen; I want to live in a country where I can fulfil my capabilities.”

The project, which started in September 2016 and is being developed in consultation with a network of women and girls with disabilities, involves:

  • Public awareness raising on the rights of women and girls with disabilities so those affected know where they can get help.
  • Advocacy work to ensure that sufficient policies and laws exist to protect them.
  • Working with health, justice and support services to ensure that women and girls with disabilities are able to receive help.

The project aims to bring about a lasting change in attitudes so that women and girls with disabilities can participate actively in Nigerian society, be treated with respect and live a life free from abuse.

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