Women living with disabilities have raised concern over gender-based violence, saying it’s exercised by people who haven’t yet embraced gender equality and inclusion.
Gender-based violence is rampant around the world, but especially affects those with physical disabilities, according to officials from the National Union of Disability Organisations of Rwanda.
Women with physical disabilities face acute discrimination and are often at a more disadvantage than men with disabilities.
This is due to the biological, psychological, economic, social, political and cultural attributes associated with being female. Often, they are denied their human rights because of the lesser status ascribed to them by tradition and custom.
They encounter disadvantages in education, work and employment, family and reproductive rights, health, violence and abuse.
“Prejudice and discrimination hinder women with physical disabilities from accessing reproductive health care services,” said Gaudence Mushimiyimana, executive director of Rwanda Organisation of women with disabilities, adding, “We encounter physical and attitudinal barriers as we seek healthcare. It gets worse when we visit reproductive health service providers.”
For instance, women with visual impairments face difficulties when in labour because many doctors give less attention to women with disabilities.
Also accessing public transport, which is the most convenient and cheapest means of travel to the health facilities, is difficult because most vehicles are inaccessible to people with disabilities.
Currently, Rwanda is ranked fifth in the World Economic Gender Gap Report, up from seventh position in 2014.
The Department for International Development donated €1.3 million (Rwf300 million) to fund a four-year project named “Tinyuka Uvuge’to”, which seeks to fight gender-based violence and sexual violence in Rwanda.