UN members urged to end violence against disabled women and girls

UN members urged to end violence against disabled women and girls

June 17, 2019

Steps to end violence against disabled women and girls was the focus of recommendations that Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero delivered on behalf of national human rights institutions to the world’s biggest disability meeting, the Conference of State Parties, held at the United Nations last week. The statement was delivered on 10 June 2019.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

On behalf of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address the 12th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP). 

The world is changing but it is not changing fast enough in relation to persons with disabilities living lives free of violence and abuse.

The recent #MeToo Movement has successfully raised awareness of violence against women, demonstrating that this is widespread and endemic and highlighting the need to act. 

However, there are voices that are unheard within this global campaign. 

Research indicates that people with disabilities are at high risk of violence. 

Globally, statistics suggest that persons with disabilities are 1.5-4 times more likely than others to be subject to violence, with disabled women potentially up to 10 times more likely to experience sexual violence than non-disabled women.    

There is a need to maintain awareness about this significant issue.  

We need to keep building the evidence base to more fully understand the scale of the problem and address the social norms and conditions within which violence towards people with disabilities occurs. 

People with disabilities must be at the heart of the research agenda.   

Collectively, we must ensure that the voices, concerns, and perspectives of people with disabilities are heard regarding violence and abuse. In particular, the multifaceted and intersectional nature of discrimination experienced by women and girls with disabilities must be in focus.

On the other hand, the 2030 Agenda and its objectives reflects the vulnerability situation of children, youth and people with disabilities. More than 80% of them live in poverty, a situation that increases the risk of violence, exclusion and discrimination.

The access to economic and social rights, as high quality and inclusive education; qualified medical care and medical facilities; decent work and social welfare; social inclusion; sanitation, food and clean water; access to justice; equal access to housing and public services; and the access to civil and political rights including participation in political life and decision-making, are part of the goals of the SDGs. This is the safest path to achieve the full realization of human rights and the capacity development of the millions of people with disabilities (especially women and children), the empowerment of every aspect of their lives, for the achievement of the fulfillment of international human rights treaties.

As national human rights institutions, with a broad human rights mandate and functions, we therefore call on States in close partnerships with persons with disabilities and with disability organisations: 

(a) To ensure, in line with article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention), the collection of appropriate information, including statistical and research data, on all forms of violence experienced by persons with disabilities, disaggregated by sex, age, sexual orientation and gender identity, and disability;

(b) In accordance with article 8 of the Convention, to implement awareness-raising programmes designed to change the societal perception of persons with disabilities and to shed light on the specific violence suffered by persons with disabilities, including situations that expose women and girls with disabilities to violence; and

(c) To review and/or amend legislation on violence against women to ensure that it expressly prohibits all forms of violence against women and girls with disabilities, in accordance with relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international human rights treaties. 

It is necessary that States strive for the fulfillment of their commitments from the "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development"  

With the engagement of States and the international community, we must continue to strive to fulfil the goals in the 2030 Agenda, to improve the living conditions of people, including people with disabilities.

As NHRIs from all world regions, we will continue working closely with our respective States, persons with disabilities and their organisations, and with our national and global partners, to this end.

I thank you.