Women with disabilities learn how to recognise abuse and get help

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In most cases women living with disabilities who face gender-based violence have limited access to help and reporting the abuse. Sometimes it is even difficult to recognise that they are being abused. Because of this, the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) in partnership with UNICEF conducted a workshop for young women with disabilities to ensure they are aware of their rights and that they are aware of recourses they have if they face gender-based violence.

The workshop is being conducted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Greater Georgetown.

Women with Disabilities Network Coordinator, Rosemarie Ramitt, during brief remarks said as the country observes “16 Days of Activism” to end gender-based violence, women with disabilities must not be forgotten.

Ramitt has been assisting with research in Regions 3, 4, 6 and 10 on how the COVID pandemic has impacted women with disabilities and their experiences with abuse.

“Even in 2022, the way that violence has been normalised in many of our communities [is concerning] and this is why many women don’t even know that they are experiencing gender-based violence,” Ramitt said.

Women with Disabilities Network Coordinator, Rosemarie Ramitt (Photo: News Room/December 1, 2022)

She hopes the workshop will build an even stronger network of women with disabilities to recognise and seek help if they are being abused.

Coordinator of GCOPD, Ganesh Singh, said soon a six-month project will launch to help women living with disabilities seek recourse.

The project, funded by the Spotlight Initiative, aims to build capacity of 200 women living with disabilities to know their rights, train survivors advocate and to help and support persons living with disabilities when they go to seek justice.

“Gender-based violence does exist within the community of persons with disabilities it is almost an open secret, we all know about it, many or most of the cases are unreported, little or no action is taken but we live with it on a daily basis, we hear stories and we know of stories,” Singh stated.

Coordinator of GCOPD, Ganesh Singh (Photo: News Room/December 1, 2022)

He added that even though these women go to report abuse, the facilities that provide support are most times inaccessible and sign language interpretation is absent.

“We that know that women with disabilities would rather speak with someone with a disability or rather someone who would understand and they need that persons support in order to get assistance,” Singh related.

He highlighted that poverty also has a direct relationship with persons with disabilities and because of this most women with disabilities are dependent on the perpetrators for survival.

To ensure this vulnerable group is included in the fight against gender-based violence, Singh posited that society can put systems in place to ensure that women and girls can access all the services available.

“We as an Organisation that is mainly focused on capacity building and advocacy, will continue to do what we can to ensure that the services are more accessible and women and girls with disabilities have somewhere to turn to if they are in that situation.”

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