Disabled Trafficked Women’s Rights – What Rights?

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2015 National Women's Conference
16 October 2014

This Women’s Conference is concerned to learn about recent reports of abuse towards disabled women in the human trafficking industry. This is an industry where escaping is often met with even greater barriers than usual for non disabled women as accessible support systems are extremely hard to find, and their built environments and accessible information services are virtually non-existent for disabled women. Finding a refuge that can accommodate disabled women’s needs is exceptionally difficult for those women who already live in the UK and need to escape violence however, the prospect of breaking the additional language and other barriers faced by migrant women compounds those enormous difficulties.

Women with learning difficulties and women with mental health impairments are at an increased risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, they are being coerced with promises of work and then being sold as prostitutes. There have been numerous and increasing numbers of cases involving disabled women and girls who are victims of this heinous crime. Some of those disabled women may face abuse simply for ‘shaming’ the family by the mere fact of being disabled, others may have become disabled as a consequence of domestic violence or become disabled as a result of war etc Each women will have their own experience of the discriminating barriers she faces as a woman with impairments and it is important that UNISON policy takes account of these women in a social model context – where it is not the impairment or condition that determines discrimination but the barriers faced in accessing a full and equal opportunity to life.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to liaise with UNISON’s National Disabled Members’ Committee, the UNISON Police and Justice Committee, Labour Link and other external bodies including Police and Crime Commissioners the Women’s TUC and organisations that are run and controlled by disabled women to develop a campaigning charter to stop this exploitation and form of disablist and sexist abuse from happening.