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“Ensuring that no woman is left behind is at the very essence of human rights”

On the World Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November, Autism-Europe joins the European Disability Forum to call on the European Union (EU) to protect the rights of women with disabilities.

The EU should take concrete action to end violence, abuse and forced sterilisation for all women and girls with disabilities, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Autistic self-advocate Monique Post, member of the Dutch Autism Association (NVA) and member of Autism-Europe’s Council of Administration, provide advice on how to combat  violence against women with disabilities in Europe in her role as member of the EDF Women’s Committee: “True empowerment is not given to someone, but comes from the inside of a person. What the environment around a woman can do is protect her right to speak out without fear of recrimination, segregation, violence or suppression. Ensuring that no woman is left behind, regardless of her culture, religion or disability is at the very essence of human rights.

“If we understand the fact that that we do not understand everything, we could communicate with each other with more respect, as equals, eliminating the pathway to violence. For this to work we need to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.”

On 5 December 2017, Autism-Europe will participate in a hearing aiming to raise awareness on ending forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities and calling for the prohibition of all forms of violence against women, organised by EDF at the European Parliament in Brussels.

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On January 31 2017, Autism-Europe’s Director Aurélie Baranger was invited to speak at a workshop titled “Domestic violence against people with disability”, organised at the European Parliament in Brussels by Member of the European Parliament Soraya Post. The objectives were to highlight issues linked to violence against women with disabilities and the specific challenges that they face. It also called for the EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

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Facts and figures

According to EDF, there are 46 million women and girls with disabilities in Europe, representing 60% of the overall population of persons with disabilities. Women with disabilities are 2 to 5 times more likely to be victims of violence than non-disabled women and it is not uncommon for them to be subjected to forced sterilisation and abortions against their will. Accessing justice, support and protection services is often impossible for women with disabilities because of accessibility and legal barriers, among others. Women with disabilities may, for example, live in institutions deprived of their legal capacity, or the available services may simply not be accessible to them. 

Follow all updates in this discussion on social media using the hashtag  #ViolenceAgainstWomen