Round table “Violence against women with disabilities”

The Women’s Room organized on November 21, 2012 in hotel International a round table entitled: “Violence against Women with Disabilities” on the occasion of the International Day Against Violence Against Women.

Guests with the opening remarks at the roundtable were:

  • Anka Slonjšak, BSc – Ombudsperson for persons with disabilities;
  • Višnja Ljubičić, BA – Ombudsperson for Gender Equality;
  • Gordana Jurčević – President of Network of Women with Disabilities;
  • Maja Mamula, Ph.D. – Coordinator of the Women’s Room.

The goal of the roundtable was to open a discussion about specific problems and difficulties of women with disabilities in relation to experience of different forms of violence and discrimination to which they are systematically exposed and the problems they face when reporting violence.

Roundtable brought together a number of participants from the public and civil sectors, relevant bodies and institutions as well as civil society organizations dealing with violence against women and/or protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The round table has provided the ability to exchange information in the field of protection of women’s human rights with the emphasis on women with disabilities who are survivors of violence.

Of the total population, women with disabilities comprise about 77 percent of the lower educational level, which means they have completed a four-year or eight-year school or did not finish elementary school. This is important information that illustrates the seriousness of the problem and difficulties with their involvement in the community, and return to work or employment, warned the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities Anka Slonjšak. She pointed out that according to data from the Croatian National Institute of Public Health, there are 518 389 people with disabilities, 40% of which are women. Speaking about the problem of violence against women with disabilities, she noted that the most common forms of violence are domestic violence, violence in the community and at the workplace, but that the most alarming issue is that this violence goes unreported.

Ombudsperson for Gender Equality, Višnja Ljubičić, pointed out specific problems of women with disabilities in Croatia in terms of economic problems such as the inability to find employment, pointing out that it is harder for them to become employed than for men with disabilities. Ljubičić has presented data obtained from the workshops with disabled women who say that only 30 percent of the women were granted the right to a disability pension, compared to 70 percent of men. The largest number of women with disabilities, 74.3 percent live in families, 19 percent lives alone, and 53 percent of women live in institutions.

President of the Network of Women with Disabilities, Gordana Jurčević, emphasized that when we talk about violence against women with disabilities, we should keep in mind that neglect also represents violence. She pointed out that the psychological violence is dominant, since women with disabilities, she said, do not recognize it due to their dependence on assistance from others. Most often, it occurs in the family, and is done under the guise of overprotection of parents or spouses and therefore they cannot exercise their choice, she warned.

Organization of this round table was financially supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Youth and carried out in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and People with Disabilities of the City of Zagreb.