Violence Against Disabled Women and Domestic Abuse

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2022 Virtual National Women's Conference
15 October 2021
Carried as Amended

Conference notes recent advice from the Metropolitan Police force that women should “run away” if they feel unsafe in the presence of a lone police officer in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2020.

Not only is this advice discriminatory towards disabled women, but it also fails to address the root cause and places the onus on women to act to keep themselves safe, not on men to stop being violent towards women. It should not be the responsibility of women to prevent their own murders.

Globally, an estimated 736 million women—almost one in three—have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (30 per cent of women aged 15 and older). This figure does not include sexual harassment.

The rates of depression, anxiety disorders, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV are higher in women who have experienced violence compared to women who have not, as well as many other health problems that can last even after the violence has ended. Black and LGBT+ disabled women may also be disproportionately affected by violence and struggle to access support services.

Research has found that:

• Disabled women are more likely to be subjected to abuse or violence than non-disabled women.

• Discrimination, a lack of access to financial and other resources to enable independence, and a lack of accessible services makes escaping abuse or violence extremely difficult for disabled women.

• Regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or class, disabled women are assaulted, raped, and abused at a rate of at least two times greater than non-disabled women, yet are much less likely to receive assistance or services if they experience violence.

Conference calls upon the National Women’s Committee to work with the National Disabled Members committee to:

1)Seek to ensure the needs of disabled women are considered when the committee is consulted on matters relating to violence against women.

2)Work with the NEC to take the necessary steps to seek to ensure that Stewards and Branch Officers have access to relevant training to enable them to deal appropriately with members who are subject to domestic abuse.

3)Encourage branches to negotiate workplace policies on domestic abuse.