The Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC) says Gender Based Violence is on the increase in Nigeria, even with the enactment of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015.
This is according to a 2018 study on Baseline Survey on the Knowledge, Attitude and Perception of the General Population on Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities with theme as: “Fallen Through the Cracks’’
Ms Irene Patrick, Executive Director of DRAC, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday that the study was conducted by DRAC with the support of Christoffel Bliden Mission (CBM), a German NGO.
According to her, the act seemed to be getting worse with trends showing that Women and Girls with Disabilities (WGWDs) faced triple marginalisation.
The study also revealed that one in every five Nigerian women would experience some form of abuse in her life time, with the abusers most times being a member of her family or an intimate acquaintance.
“According to the World Bank Collection of Development Indicators complied in 2016, 49. 34 percent of Nigeria’s 185 million populations are females, with 19.2 per cent which is 17.6 million constituting WGWDs.
“Generally women in Nigeria are disadvantaged because of the patriarchal nature of the Nigeria society which sees women as the weaker sex and a second class citizen.
“This has affected the way women are treated, as they face marginalisation and deprivation and a woman with disability faces double disadvantage,’’ it said.
The study further showed that WGWDs are more vulnerable to gender based violence especially sexual violence due to the limitations imposed by their disabilities and with perpetrators taking advantage of that.
“The multiple oppression WGWDs face leave these women and girls extremely vulnerable to their intimate partners and caregiver.
“In Nigeria WGWDs have reported experiencing physical violence such as slapping, beatings, arm twisting, stabbing, strangling, burning, kicking and the likes by from intimate partners or family members.’’
It revealed also that there were no statistics in Nigeria that clearly outlined the number of WGWDs who have experienced and who would continue to experience violence.
It stated that though a number of studies existed, but none of them addressed whether or not the female victims were disabled.
This it said, could be attributed to the fact that most policy makers, service providers and researchers simply would not get information on the population.
Societal attitudes about WGWDs may also be the cause of this exclusion as many people assume that WGWDs do not have intimate partners or are perceived as asexual, not desirable and therefore not expected to be in any form of sexual relationship.
The study also showed that most of the violence remained hidden, some unreported and unaddressed due to fear of blame, increased stigma and verbal abuse when such cases are reported.
Also multiple barriers are faced while attempting to access sexual and reproductive health, psychological and criminal justice system.
DRAC called for the support of disability stakeholders, women movement to support and provide psycho- social support, counselling services and community behavior change communications and human rights awareness and education.
“Violence against women and girls with disabilities has long gone unnoticed, ignored, and undealt with in the Nigeria social justice system with no help or support from the system to protect them’’, it noted.