No interpreters, mobility for indigenous women living with disabilities- GBV study finds


Access to an interpreter and mobility for indigenous women living with disabilities posed a challenge for researchers trying to understand how women living with disabilities were treated during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

This is according to Rosemarie Ramitt, the Coordinator for the Women with Disabilities Network.

York University, The University of the West Indies– St. Augustine, Red Thread Guyana, and the National Commission on Disability, combined efforts to establish the research report titled, ‘Women with Disabilities and Gender-Based Violence in Emergency Situations and Beyond: Lessons from COVID-19’.

The report was unveiled on Tuesday at the Guyana National Library.

Ramitt, the data collection coordinator for the study, explained that when she approached the National Toshaos Council to get women living with disabilities from communities within Regions One, 7, 8, and 9 to participate, she encountered a ‘harsh reality’.

Though thankful for the Toshaos’ support and enthusiasm to have the women participate, she said the lack of resources posed a challenge.

“I was frustrated not because we didn’t have participants, but in terms of knowing that there are these women with disabilities in these indigenous communities who could not get access to transportation, they were even saying we don’t have interpreters to be able to connect these women with you.

“It really was a harsh reality for me because I work in Georgetown; to know that we have women with disabilities in these areas that we are trying to reach but we are unable to do so. The Toshaos tried their best to cooperate with us but with those limitations there was nothing that we could do about it,” Ramitt said.

Some 30 women participated from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and 10, and according to Ramitt, challenges with funding to cover transportation costs meant persons could not attend from the hinterland and other rural areas.

Even if financing was available, Ramitt explained, there was still the issue of third party interpreters who could speak indigenous languages and conduct sign language.

“In one instance there were women who were deaf in the village; [I was told] they didn’t have phones and would have to take a boat to come out to have access to the phone and that was just to do the screening aspect.

“It didn’t guarantee that they would be in the research project,” Ramitt said.

Ramitt said even with these limitations, she reached out to health centres in an effort to get these persons involved but again, access to resources was a challenge.

The coordinator said should there be an expansion of the research, it would be to get the voices of these women included.

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