International Women's Day 2010

Million Women Rise – Breaking the silence of Disabled Women

Posted in 2010 03 06, London, Statements Press Releases by womeninlondon on 9 March 2010

Eleanor Lisney

Fiona Pilkington caught the headlines when she killed herself and her disabled daughter by setting fire to their car – she had been unable to get help against constant abuse and intimidation from local youths but there are many, many disabled women who are abused, violated and within their own homes. We want you to hear some of those voices from a recent report on Disabled women and domestic violence.

“Oh yes, he would drag me along the floor because I couldn’t walk or get away that was how it would start, the way it always went. He’d insult me with all those names, ‘you spassy’ and so on, ‘who’d want to marry you?’

And he smashed me against the wall, shouting insults, you cripple, all that sort of thing.”

“Because I can’t feed myself and he would go out in the evenings deliberately and I wouldn’t have eaten anything for a twenty-four hour period or more. So that wouldn’t have happened to anybody that could feed themselves.”

In the evenings I’d be exhausted. And being deaf is hard work you know, you have to concentrate so much harder and it’s tiring. And he’d be furious and slap me and kick me awake. And he used to like: ‘Don’t you fall asleep on me, I want a wife, a real wife not an old woman’. And you know it was sex all the time, twice a day and he would shout at me and then hold me down and I hated it, I hated it.”

You know refuge provision is scarce, and accessible refuge provision is almost non existent and many women believed they could not be accommodated according to their needs.

Disabled women are also more vulnerable to sexual assaults in places such as care homes and by their carers. James Watts, sexually assaulted four disabled women at the care home where he worked as a mini bus driver. He was found guilty after one of his victims testified by blinking yes or no to questions from the police.

Michelle Daley

Disabled women continue (even as we speak) to experience physical, mental and sexual abuse. The sad reality is, our voices continue to go unheard by those key services that are set up to assist and support women in vulnerable positions.

Sisters, in order for you to really appreciate the seriousness of our situations experienced by disabled women you must recognise and understand the barriers we experience which can worsen the problems.

For this reason it can be difficult for us to report our abuser or even challenge them especially if we are dependent on them for support. What worries us is that many disabled women are forced to continue to experience brutality and suffering from their abuser. This is a sad and worrying reality!

Also, we must not forget about the experiences of disabled women with multiple identities. For many of us we continue to experience multiple discrimination from within the disability movement, other women, community and society.

Being here today for both of us (Eleanor and myself) is about raising the voices of our disabled sisters. It is also about ensuring our recognition within this struggle for human rights. We close by saying that we all have a responsibility to ensure disabled women are recognised and respected as equals within this struggle for all of our voices to be heard – “we are women too!”.

This is a link to a video clip of their speeches http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzwyVkhfSxo

(See other speakers at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=2010%2B%22milliion+women+rise%22&search_type=&aq=f)

See also:

Photos on MWR facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?v=photos&gid=11516673477

And videos on MWR facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?v=app_2392950137&gid=11516673477

Comment and photos on the f word http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2010/03/sister_can_you with links to other pictures and videos

And photos in the Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/the-rights-of-woman-how-far-have-they-advanced-1917579.html?action=Popup (first national paper to acknowledge MWR after 3 years?)

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