16 days of activism against gender based violence: Savina Nongebatu, Solomon Islands
“Accessibility for women with disabilities is a huge issue. Accessibility goes beyond physical access to a buildings. It includes receiving services in a form that is accessible to all, including with people with visual or hearing impairments, people with psychosocial disabilities, and of course people with mobility impairment. It also include something as simple as having accessible toilet facilities.
Equally important for us is access to services. It is common that women with disabilities have little or no access to basic services such as health where services do not cater for some of our diverse needs. For example, girls and women with disabilities are usually assumed to be asexual thus should not have sexual relationships nor bear children. Sexual and reproductive health services are not inclusive of women with disabilities and their rights not protected. Access to education is a huge barrier: when girl are born with disability, there is a very little chance she will ever attend school. There are also cultural beliefs that disability is a bad omen and this feeds to the stigma and discrimination.
Our region have very high levels of violence against women. It is no secret that women with disabilities are more vulnerable to all forms of violence. When there are incidences of violence, women with disabilities usually do not have support to report crimes committed against them, there are no interpreters in courts, and the attitudes of police are usually negative and discriminatory. The reporting process is usually long and frustrating. People working in the courts system lack knowledge on rights of persons with disabilities. In some countries Family Protection Acts have been developed but not implemented.”