April 9th, 2018

Violence Against Women With Disabilities Is A Huge Issue In Canada

The #MeToo movement has been going strong, but when we talk about women’s rights one area often neglect is disabled Canadians.

A recent report from Statistics Canada found that found the rate of violent victimization of women in the able-bodied population totalled 65 per 1,000 people, the figure for disabled women more than doubled to 137 per 1,000.

The report also found that 29 in 1,000 women overall reported surviving a sexual assault, but the number jumped to 56 per 1,000 for disabled women. Women with a cognitive or mental health condition were at even greater risk with their rates of victimization at 121 and 131 per 1,000 respectively.

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While any violence or sexual assault against women is unacceptable, these numbers show that there is a huge part of the issue that is not being acknowledged.

Sarah Jama is a disability justice activist and said in an interview with Metro Newsthat part of the problem is how society views women with disabilities.

“(The disproportionate risk is) not talked about because we’ve been socialized to see disabled women as not sexual, or (as) childlike, especially if you have an intellectual disability,” said Jama. “There’s a lot of shame around that for women with disabilities.”

Accessibility policies in Canada unfortunately do not address violence or women. As a result, when we talk about violence against women, we don’t focus attention on women with disabilities.

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Something to keep in mind as well is that women with disabilities are the largest, poorest minority group in the world. A large part of this has to do with lack of employment opportunities.

According to a recent Canadian study, people with disabilities are more likely to hold low-skill, temporary jobs. This not only means lower wages, but more workplace hazards are more likely to face inadequate occupational health and safety (OHS) protections.

Disability rights are human rights, and as Canadians we need to do more to make sure this population no longer has to fear violence or discrimination.


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