In India, 59% of the unmarried women had experienced violence from their natal family members, friends, and neighbours, and 54% of the ever-married women had faced violence from affinal family members, natal family members, friends, and neighbours. Also, 78% of the women who faced violence had experienced severe mental distress as a direct result of the violence.

The particular vulnerabilities to abuse experienced by the disabled women included stereotypes of asexuality and passivity, acceptance of abuse as normal behaviour, lack of adaptive equipment, inaccessible home and community environments, increased exposure to medical and institutional settings, dependence on perpetrators for assistance, and lack of employment options.

Women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Research has shown that  women with disabilities experience abuse at least twice as often as non-disabled women. Abusers – including personal assistants and carers –  may exploit a woman’s particular condition or impairment. There are also additional barriers that a woman with disability must overcome when she seeks help.
It’s common for abusers to use disabled women’s impairments to control and hurt them through:

  • Physical abuse: pushing her onto the floor when she is unable to get back up, hitting her when she cannot get away from him, ignoring her care needs.
  • Sexual abuse: disabled women are twice as likely to be raped or assaulted.
  • Psychological abuse: control of contact with the outside world, telling her that no one else would want her because of her impairments, locking her in a room, refusing to take her to the bathroom (if she cannot get there without assistance), hiding her possessions including the aides she needs to be independent.
  • Financial abuse: not allowing her to have any financial independence, having to beg for everything she needs, having her disability benefits taken from her, taking money from her without her permission or knowledge.

It has been recognized that women with disabilities may be particularly at risk due to stigmas associated with both disability and gender, and are more likely to suffer from discrimination than omen or men without disabilities. In India, women with disabilities undergo emotional, mental and physical abuse and there are no statistics/data. Several cases go unreported. Discrimination deprives women with disabilities of fundamental rights and equality of opportunity.

  • Women with Disability experience more abuse than non-disabled women
  • Non-disabled abusers may use a woman’s impairment as part of the abuse, increasing both the abuser’s power and control and the woman’s vulnerability and isolation.
  • Women with disabilities find it hard to trust people in public and are often wary when strangers offer help.
  • There are instances when they get into ‘uncomfortable situations’ where strangers, on the pretext of helping them, try to touch them in offensive ways.
  • Women with disabilities face higher risk of HIV/AIDs because of lack of education. The implications of this in terms of HIV is that women with disabilities – particularly those with speech, hearing and intellectual impairments – are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse than men with disabilities or non-disabled women