Publication: European Human Rights Report 3 - Gender and disability: women and girls with disabilities (excerpt)

31 July 2019

European Human Rights report – issue 3’ is the third issue of our annual European Human Rights report Series focus on Ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities to equality and non-discrimination in the European Union. The report includes a review of equality frameworks in each EU Member State and a section on multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3: Multiple and intersectional discrimination:

Women and girls with disabilities frequently face discrimination based on their gender and disability. This is one of the reasons why the CRPD included a specific provision on women and girls with disabilities. Article 6 of the CRPD requires States Parties to the Convention to “recognise that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination” and “take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms”. In General Comment No. 3, the CRPD Committee stressed that, women and girls with disabilities are affected not only by multiple discrimination, but also by intersectional discrimination and require specific targeted measures.

Although progress has been made in society, discrimination against women and girls still exists at the present time, perhaps even in much more subtle ways. Women and girls with disabilities are still to be found on the fringes of all human rights movements and remain bogged down in a disadvantageous position within society. The status of women and girls with disabilities is not only worse than that of other women and girls, but also worse than that of their male peers, and especially so in rural areas, where matriarchal systems and primary economic systems, with fewer services and opportunities for this group than in urban environments, are still predominant.” – Ana Pelaez, member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and Chair of EDF’s Women Committee

In practice, women and girls with disabilities face barriers in most areas of life and are still treated unequally and denied their human rights, which constitutes aggravated forms of discrimination on the grounds of their disability and gender. Women and girls with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, deafblind women, and women with multiple disabilities are even more at risk of being marginalised and abused, 18 and face more challenges to report abuses and seek justice.

In reality, prejudices and lack of support measures hinder their access to education, employment and their participation in society at large, including political participation, in comparison with other women and girls, and men with or without disabilities. Health care facilities that may appear neutral continue to be discriminatory when they do not include accessible examination beds for gynaecological screenings, sign language interpretation for deaf women or easy to understand information for expectant mothers with intellectual disabilities. Violence and abuse in the form of forced sterilisation, female genital mutilation and coerced abortion are other clear examples of the denial of rights that many women, adolescents and girls with disabilities suffer from, without giving their consent or fully understanding the intentions, 19 in particular relating to women and girls with disabilities placed in institutional settings. 20 Their testimonies may even be dismissed by the police or in court proceedings because of the removal of legal capacity or “lack of credibility”, thus denying their rights of access to justice and effective remedies.

All these acts and practices constitute serious violations of their fundamental rights and should be condemned and effectively sanctioned. The ratification by the EU and all its Member States of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (“Istanbul Convention”) 21 is particularly required.

 

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