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"...natural hazards need not cause a human catastrophe" UN Secretary General Nov 2011.

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Enforcing the rights of women with disabilities

Two visually impaired women are standing, one is elderly lady, the other is holding a baby
Women and girls who are blind/partially sighted experience multiple forms of discrimination which create further barriers to to their human rights

Although the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) outlines the rights of persons with disabilities, women/girls with disability remain vulnerable to violence and face barriers to accessing justice, education, healthcare and the political process. The WBU therefore calls for a concerted effort from states to enact the provisions of the UN CRPD

Protecting the rights of persons with disabilities

The United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) outlines the rights of persons with disabilities. Parties to the convention are to ensure that persons with disabilities are entitled to the full enjoyment of their human rights and are given equal treatment under the law. This convention codified that people with disabilities should be viewed as equal members of society and should be given access to a range of rights: the right to personal safety, access to justice, healthcare and many other elementary human rights.

In a submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) general discussion on Women/Girls with disabilities, the World Blind Union’s Advocacy Co-ordinator, Dr Cordeiro outlines how the rights codified in the UNCRPD remain unfulfilled for women with disabilities, particularly the blind and the visually impaired.

Continued violence against women with disabilities

Almost 80 percent of women with disabilities are victims of violence. They are four times more likely than other women to suffer sexual violence. They suffer violence in the home, in institutions and in the community, perpetrated by family, caregivers, healthcare or school personnel, and strangers, including rape (also marital rape), forced marriage, forced abortion, forced contraception, forced sterilisation, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices in peacetime, conflict and post conflict situations. 

Justice for victims of abuse

Despite the grave nature of these violations, access to justice remains out of reach for many women and girls with disabilities, particularly women with visual disabilities.

Access to justice has always been a challenge for Blind/Partially sighted persons. Firstly, the procedures of the justice system are largely inaccessible to the visual impaired. The act of lodging a complaint, seeking police assistance, obtaining legal aid, testifying in court and participating in one’s defense have often been frustrated by lack of awareness and training of actors in the justice system.

Applying the rights of persons with disabilities

Without access to remedies for violations, the rights of people with disabilities are rendered meaningless. This is why provisions are made in the UNCRPD (Articles 12 & 13), in CEDAW (Article 15) and in article 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee access to justice as a fundamental human rights.

World Blind Union President, Arnt Holte therefore stresses that more needs to be done to implement the provisions made in the UNCRPD. Although, the UNCRPD states that people with disabilities should have full enjoyment of their human rights. Women/Girls with disabilities remain vulnerable to violence and continue to face barriers to justice, education and healthcare. States parties to the UNCRPD must make concerted efforts to apply the provisions of the UNCRPD.

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CBM’s engagement in advocacy

CBM is working with other organisations to advocate for a disability-inclusive society


Inaccessible Justice


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