Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2016
Sisters of Frida CIC is an experimental collective of disabled women. We want a new way of sharing experiences, mutual support and relationships with different networks.
Sisters of Frida started at a meeting when we floated the idea of having a disabled women’s group. It took some time to come together – the co founders were Eleanor Lisney, Michelle Daley, Eleanor Firman, Maria Zedda, Svetlana Kotova, Frieda Van De Poll and Martine Miel. We became a CIC in 2014.
We are seeking to build a/or different networks of disabled women.¬† The barriers and multiple discrimination have not changed, we struggle to have our voices heard as disabled women in our own rights.
We would like a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women to discuss, share experiences and explore intersectional possibilities.
Facebook group (for UK residents) : https://www.facebook.com/groups/sisofrida/
Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/sistersoffrida/
SOF CRPD Shadow Report : UK Initial Report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Posted on Monday, March 27th, 2017
Disabled people‚Äôs organisations (DPOs) have come together to tell a UN committee the different ways in which the UK government has been breaching the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). See Disability News Service ‘s article DPOs join forces to brief UN on how UK has breached disability convention¬†
Sisters of Frida wrote a short shadow report on 3 Articles with List of Issues. We also contributed to the ROFA shadow report.
Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
Please note new time, although the AGM starts at 1pm as seen from previous post , you are welcomed to get there before. Blackfriars Settlement has an excellent cafe with reasonable prices for lunch or snacks.
Please register at eventbrite
Please also have a look at these documents
We are asking for your ideas, opinions as to how you want Sisters of Frida to plan a strategy for going ahead.
Here is the agenda for the day
Sisters of Frida Annual General Meeting
Venue: Blackfriars Settlement, 1 Rushworth St, London SE1 0RB
Date: Saturday, 25 March 2017
12:00noon to 1:00PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Networking
1:00PM to1:30PM ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† What we‚Äôve done, finance & questions
1:30PPM to 2:00PM ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Visionary: Sisters Of Frida in 3 Years‚Äô
2:00 PM to 2:15PM Break
2:15PM to 3:30PM ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Strategy: Road Map
3:30PM to 3:45PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Break
Steering Group Members Meeting
3:45PM to 3:50PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Thank you and welcome new SGM
3:50PM to 4:20PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Prioritise outcome from Strategy session. This will involve agree work plan for the future but also assigning it to the visionary statements.
4:20PM to 4:40PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Governance
4:40PM to 5PM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† A.O.B
Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017
Main talks programme panel ‚ÄúIntersectionality for Beginners‚ÄĚ at Women of the World Festival 2017, in London South Bank. This panel featurered a keynote from Lydia X. Z. Brown and panel of Guppi Bola, Kuchenga Shenje, Emma Dabiri, and Eleanor Lisney (from Sisters of Frida) chaired by Hannah Azieb Poole. Transcripts kindly provided by Lydia)
This was the prepared speech by Eleanor Lisney¬† for the panel (but not read out)
When I came back to the UK to take up the position of relationship manager at a university, people told me I ticked many brownie points. I learn to realise they meant I had many disadvantages , because I was a woman, of an ethnic minority, and disabled. Some said it must be an advantage in applying for jobs but believe me, it isn‚Äôt . This is before I even heard of the term ‚Äė intersectionality‚Äô, the multiple oppression that arise out of having multiple identities, ¬†and understand the impact it had on my life and that of others.
In January, I was invited to speak as a Sister of Frida at a hearing at the European Parliament on domestic violence and disabled people, and I used a personal example when mentioning intersectionality. When I was living in France I went through a divorce process, the court saw me as a non white, disabled woman with a bad grasp of the French language. My ex, a white British man, is an international¬† civil servant, had many human rights’ lawyers as his friends. I did not even know French divorce laws were different from those in the UK.
I think it was partly from that experience I co founded Sisters of Frida – understanding the complexity of having multiple identities- and also it‚Äôs in¬† Article 6 of the Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities.
States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The UK has ratified the CRPD and In fact, quite a few of disabled activists are heading for Geneva because of the examination of the uk govt for its implementation. I wanted to go but it conflicted with the international women‚Äôs day events and me here at WOW.¬† Disability and feminism. Women organisations do not know much about disability and disabled people‚Äôs organisations are gender neutral, we hope to build bridges there and make a change. Just insisting on our rights to be heard and to make spaces more inclusive and accessible are challenges. I hope we have made some difference. If I make a mention here, one Sister of Frida, is Rebecca Bunce who is a co founder of IChange has campaigned tirelessly for the Istanbul Convention and spoken on the need for access at public spaces for disabled women.
The disability movement is very white here and we would like to promote and make black and ethnic minority women more visible. It‚Äôs a natural reaction that you don‚Äôt join when you can‚Äôt identify with the people in it. And to show that they are not just engaged in being there as recipients but also in leadership roles. ¬†We have had discussions on disability and the¬† cultural differences on the impact of disability. Many BME women come and share with me about their disabilities but they do not self identify (unless it‚Äôs a physical visible impairment ) as disabled people¬† because of the negative perspectives, stigma and non representation. But I know this goes for other communities not just¬† for Black and women of colour .
And in the UK austerity measures by this government have meant that the intersections of being BME and disabled and women mean that many of us are reeling from the compounding cuts in benefits and services. In all areas of our lives.
My friend and fellow Co founder of SoF, Michelle Daley, has spoken on the importance of intersectionality and the social services on Wednesday, she speaks as a black disabled woman
I quote her:
“I am a woman, a black woman and a disabled woman. In most areas of my life I’m forced to compartmentalised my different intersections…. I relate this point from one of my assessments of need. So when I explained that I needed help with skin care, which is not related to my impairment, it was dismissed. The assessor had no knowledge about skin sensitive and dryness often experienced by Black People and the need for daily skin care to prevent discomfort. In this example it demonstrated how my different intersections as a Black Disabled Woman were not considered and how they interact with each other. ”
She is chairing the SoF panel at 1.15 this afternoon. I recommend you go listen to her and my other Sisters at that panel.¬† Thank you.
Why does much of the women‚Äôs rights movement marginalise disabled women?
During the last weekend in London at the Women of the World Festival (WOW) a panel of speakers discussed why disability is so often left out of conversations about intersectionality, and surveyed the key battlegrounds that disabled women are fighting on.
The panel was organized by Sisters of Frida.
Speakers included Lydia X. Z. Brown, disability rights activist; Magdalena Szarota, Polish disability rights activist and HIA Polska Board Member; Sarifa Patel of Newham‚Äôs Disability Forum; and Simone Aspis, Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) campaigner. Chaired by Michelle Daley of the Sisters of Frida disabled women‚Äôs collective.”
Other photos from the Women of the World Festival with SoF and disabled women at Flickr¬†¬†¬†
We collaborated on ‘Disabled women missing from history’ these were exhibited at the cafe of the Royal Festival Hall
Posted on Monday, March 13th, 2017
On Saturday, at Women of the World festival, I found myself on the panel for the planning meeting of ‚ÄėWomen‚Äôs Day Off‚Äô.¬† This is being organised by the Women‚Äôs Equality Party for 2017 to¬†coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and calls all women to not perform any paid or unpaid work for one day to raise awareness of gender inequality.
In my two minutes, I raised the issues of inclusion and shame.
Disabled women must be included in the organisation of the day and there needs to be a range of channels through which we can participate. We are providing paid and unpaid work and being exploited too. In fact we‚Äôre hit harder:
- Disabled men experience a pay gap of 11% compared with non-disabled men, while the gap between disabled women and non-disabled women is double this at 22%.
- The pay gap between disabled men and women in employment is 14% [Footnote: Disability in the UK 2016: Facts and Figures, Papworth Trust (2016)]
So whichever way you slice it (by gender or disability) we are disproportionately impacted
Events must be inclusive and, in my view, those who spoke out agreed with this objective. But this has to follow through to the realities of the day. It requires organisers (formally and informally) to critique any buildings, spaces and materials, to carefully plan all events so that meetings and rallies are inclusive and to provide ‚Äėvirtual‚Äô participation channels for those that cannot participate physically. This leads me to support needs. How will I ¬†participate if my support system breaks down for the day because my PA team have jumped on a coach to London and I‚Äôm lying in bed bursting for the loo?
Let‚Äôs face it, my PAs won‚Äôt leave me. So they won‚Äôt take the ‘day off‚Äô. This is a problem for the WEP campaign. My PAs are underpaid and undervalued by the State – they should be near the front of any rallies and marches but probably won‚Äôt be. Perhaps our solution will be that I inform my local authority that I have a credible belief my PAs will ‚Äėstrike‚Äô that day and this will put them on notice that I will be in danger. A contingency plan will need to be put in place. Even if my PAs come to work that day, the time it will take to put this plan in place will cause disruption and inconvenience for local authorities and WEP‚Äôs objectives will be virtually met.
Now I turn to the second issue which concerns me: shame. The campaign organisers need to be very clear and firm with enthusiastic feminist activists to be careful about the language they use. Take, for example, the phrase ‚Äúburden of care‚ÄĚ. Firstly, I receive support, not care. Let‚Äôs not disempower disabled women. Secondly, we are not ‘a burden’ on the state or our support networks. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse. Campaigners who major on the ‚Äėburden of care‚Äô risk adding to the emotional abuse we are already experiencing.
It is important that the campaign keeps us included in the planning process in order to allow disabled women to amplify the messages and add our protest. But it must also take responsibility for preventing attacks on our safety and dignity; we cannot be collateral damage in this day of action.
Sarah Rennie¬†is a director of the Wisdom Factory CIC, a social enterprise in Birmingham. As a former solicitor, her day-to-day work is¬†research and governance advice. However, Sarah delivers¬†disability equality training nationwide and¬†acts as a consultant for select clients on internal equality working groups. She is also vice-Chair of the city‚Äôs Access Committee. She is also on the Sisters of Frida Steering Group.
Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017
Reposted from Kirsty Liddiard’s blog with kind permission.
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to introduce¬†Sins Invalid‚Äôs film,¬†An Unshamed Claim To Beauty? The film was screened as part of Dis/Cinema, University of Sheffield, which¬†facilitates film screenings with themes of dis/ability, mental health, difference, and otherness. Check out its work here and follow Dis/Cinema on Twitter at¬†@. Below I share my introduction and slides.¬†Not surprisingly the film instigated¬†some powerful¬†discussion which followed themes of privilege/power and race, class, gender and nation; the beauty industry and the economics of (bodily) shame; how we culturally come to be repulsed by otherness through fear; and our own experiences of being/enacting the spectacle of disability. A big thanks to Dis/Cinema and everyone who came along to contribute to such a stimulating night.
When I got invited to facilitate this session, my immediate thought was, how on earth does one introduce Sins Invalid? What can I possibly say that can prepare you for the transgressive beauty that you‚Äôre about to witness in its Kickstarter-funded film, An Unshamed Claim To Beauty?
So I thought I‚Äôd begin with a story of the first time I saw Sins Invalid. It was live, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I had just graduated my PhD, in which I‚Äôd spent three years working with disabled people to tell sexual stories, and moved to Toronto in order to undertake my first postdoctoral position at the wonderful School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University.
This was a massive move for me, particularly culturally, as I‚Äôm from Milton Keynes, which, as much as I love it, really is where culture goes to die*. Everything I saw that first week of living in a new country, far from home, was new, rich, and vivid. But seeing Sins Invalid, and sitting with its audience, opened me up to the possibilities of politicising pleasure, (or disabled people‚Äôs lack of intimate justice to pleasure, sexuality and love), through art for the first time; that art, politics and power enable silenced stories to be ‚Äėloosed into the world‚Äô. These threads have persisted through my own research since that very night.
So what does it mean to ‚Äúpoliticise pleasure‚ÄĚ, and why is it important to advocate for disability justice, the politic centred in the work of Sins Invalid? Activist Mia Mingus describes disability justice as a truly collaborative and intersectional movement that brings the body back in; as that which proudly centres accessibility; and which shatters the inherent Western, ableist and neo-colonial myth of independence. Patty Bearne, Co-Founder and Director of Sins Invalid, defines disability justice like this:
‚ÄėA Disability Justice framework understands that all bodies are unique and essential; that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. We know that we are powerful not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them. We understand that all bodies are caught in these bindings of ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state and imperialism, and that we cannot separate them. These are the positions from where we struggle. We are in a global system that is incompatible with life. There is no way stop a single gear in motion ‚ÄĒ we must dismantle this machine. Disability Justice holds a vision born out of collective struggle, drawing upon the legacies of cultural and spiritual resistance within a thousand underground paths, igniting small persistent fires of rebellion in everyday life. Disabled people of the global majority ‚ÄĒ black and brown people ‚ÄĒ share common ground confronting and subverting colonial powers in their struggle for life and justice. There has always been resistance to all forms of oppression, as we know through our bones that there have simultaneously been disabled people visioning a world where we flourish, that values and celebrates us in all our myriad beauty‚Äô.
For me, Sins Invalid offers us a new lens through which to come to know, see, and feel bodies in ways counter to the dominant culture. It makes space to think about bodies, self and desire in affirmative ways ‚Äď that bodies with what disabled feminist Susan Wendell (1996:45) calls ‚Äėhard physical realities‚Äô ‚Äď bodies that droop, sag, spit, dribble, spasm, ache and leak in ways deemed inappropriate (Liddiard and Slater, fc; Morris 1989; Leibowitz 2005) and minds that confuse, forget, hallucinate, or take longer to learn are not non-human or subhuman, but can open up new ontologies of pleasure and alternative economies of desire.
Disabled people have long had their intimate citizenship and justice deprioritised ‚Äď dominant discourse renders our sexual lives, selves and bodies at best as unimportant, secondary to things like housing, care, education, and legislation; as if civil life is detached from intimate life; like the personal isn‚Äôt political. We might think, in the current age of austerity, where in the UK and beyond, successive governments have served to denigrate disabled people, our communities and our families, that access to sexuality and intimacy is of lesser importance. That in a new world order controlled by Trump, May, LePenn and others, sexuality becomes, once again, the very least of our worries.
But austerity, neoliberal-ableism and global instability inevitably proffer new forms of precarity that drive us, at best, back into the normative body and self: meaning now is the time to politicise the impacts of such forces in our intimate lives; to claim, as the wonderful Tobin Seibers affirms, a sexual culture of our own.
Asserting, celebrating and living our own pleasures at this time in our history offers radical counter narratives. We can affirm the vibrancy of disability life through pleasure and desire in the face of social and literal death that austerity brings to our communities, and at the same time chip away at the normative boundaries of human pleasure which deem it unnecessary and grotesque for a range of marginalised bodies: disabled, fat, queer, Crip, black and POC, and genderqueer and Trans bodies. It is important, in times of such existential precariousness, that pleasure and sensuality (regardless of their form) are not relegated to luxury, but are means of survival and thus necessary for creativity, vitality and disability future.
I want to end with the words of the wonderful Eli Clare (2002: no pagination). Words which speak to the very bringing together of pleasure, politics and power that Sins Invalid demands: ‚ÄėI want to read about wheelchairs and limps, hands that bend at odd angles and bodies that negotiate unchosen pain, about orgasms that aren‚Äôt necessarily about our genitals, about sex and pleasure stolen in nursing homes and back rooms where we‚Äôve been abandoned, about bodily‚ÄĒand I mean to include the mind as part of the body‚ÄĒdifferences so plentiful they can‚Äôt be counted, about fucking that embraces all those differences. It‚Äôs time.‚Äô
Thank you: here is Sins Invalid. See the trailer and buy the¬†film here.
* Sorry to those who live in/love MK ‚Äď I do ‚Äď but it ain‚Äôt no Toronto for culture‚Ä¶
Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
If you are going to the Women of the World Festival 10th – 12th March, here are some ot the sessions to look out for – these are with Sisters of Frida and friends as speakers
1:15 pm, 10 Mar 2017
Women’s Day Off (with Women’s Equality Party)
11.30¬† The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall
Lydia X.Z. Brown and Eleanor Lisney
Disability, women taking action (Sisters of Frida Panel)
1.15 Blue Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall
Green Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall
The Clore Ballroom, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall
Weston Roof Pavilion, Level 6, Green side, Royal Festival Hall
Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Please do come to our AGM at Blackfriars Settlement¬†
from 1 to 3.30 pm with a steering group meeting 3.30 – 5pm.
Refreshments (tea and coffee offered)
BSL interpretation offered.
Please send access requirements to email@example.com
And sign up at the eventbrite.
Looking forward to seeing you all!
Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2017
Here we are featuring some of the blogs/websites by Sisters of Frida
Hello! I‚Äôm Michelle Daley and I‚Äôm a proud black disabled woman. I was born and raised in the East End of London to Jamaican parents that moved to England in the 1950‚Äôs. I have worked in the disability field for over 15 years on international, national and local issues for public sector and voluntary organisations. I am privileged that through my work I am able to express myself and support others to do the same.
Here‚Äôs where you can find out more about my career background.
Why follow me?
Through endless surfing¬†it is clear¬†that there is a lack of representation by British black disabled people in archives and on-line particularly from British black disabled women. I want to share resources including some of my own works, post blogs and for you to¬†share your own experiences.
I am currently¬†a Research Fellow¬†in¬†the School of Education at the University of Sheffield.¬†Prior to this post, I¬†became the inaugural Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
I‚Äôm¬†a disabled feminist and public sociologist who believes in the power and politics of¬†co-production and arts methodologies. To me,¬†research¬†is¬†inherently political, personal, and embodied, and collaborative and always community-focused. This website details my scholarly and research interests, as well as my activist work.¬†Please feel free to have¬†a look around, and don‚Äôt hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
I am a human rights activist from the UK. I have a background in disability, training and youth participation work. I identify as a disabled person and Feminist. I belive in equity and using intersectional and inclusive approaches.
This blog is primarily to document my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship
A bit more about me
I am a born and bred Londoner who loves art, culture, travel and politics (although i am a left leaning non partisan).
I have a degree in psychology and a masters in Eastern European studies. I am interested in identity and decision making.
I have been involved in disability rights campaigning since childhood and have been active locally, nationally and internationally in the disabled peoples movement since the age of 17. Over the last 10 years I have worked in government and the NGO sector both in advisory and delivery roles.
Prior to this trip I was working for the biggest DPO in the UK¬†Equal Lives¬†.
I am a trustee of a children‚Äôs literature charity¬†outside in world¬†and a board member of¬†ENIL¬†and chair of it‚Äôs youth network.
I am also a director of¬†Sisters of Frida, a disabled¬†women‚Äôs collective.
Hi, I am Eleanor Thoe Lisney MA, MSIS, FRSA, AMBCS. I am passionate about access, human rights, disability culture, intersections of race, gender, disability. I am learning how to do digital strategy and smartphone film making. Recently I have become an emerging artist and making progress there.
I am a disabled Actor living in London, who trained with Graeae Theatre Co. I have worked extensively since, including my performance as Coral in the award winning Graeae play Peeling.
Other stage performance includes work with the David Glass Ensemble, TIE in Nottingham, Theatre Resource in Essex and Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh. My Media work also includes photo modelling, corporate video and radio.
I also Write and regularly contributor to various print & on-line publications, including Able Magazine (column writer for 2 years) and Disability Arts on-line (blog & reviews). This, along-side writing my solo piece, Song of Semmersuaq. I‚Äôm also embarking on a new project.. so read this place!
Please read my resum√©s for more details of my work.
Sideways Times is a UK based podcast, in which we talk about the politics of disability and disability justice. Through this podcast I hope to have many conversations which broaden, deepen and challenge our understandings of how we work against ableism and how this connects to other struggles.
Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2017
Sisters of Frida was asked to speak at an event hosted by Soraya Post MEP on Domestic violence against disabled people by the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) on the 31st January 2017. Here is the speech from Eleanor Lisney ( a summarised version was given as the meeting ran out of time)
Having support for independent living is one of the fundamental needs of disabled people and the structural barriers of being able to exercise our rights is in our battles with social services, schools, higher education, housing, stigmas and discrimination and ableism.
Embla and Freyja were giving their testimonies on behalf of¬† the next day on domestic violence against disabled people. Here is their speech for Tab√ļ.
It is clear that a new definition of domestic violence in itself will not solve the social situation of disabled women and end domestic violence against us. That does not change the fact that by redefining domestic violence legally and in policy can change, for the better, the practices of the police, legal system, social services and violence support networks. Changing the definition does not have to shadow the gender-based approach, it should enrich it. This should not have to exclude tackling of other forms of violence, e.g. institutional violence and hate crime. More so it could draw upon the multiple and concurrent forms of violence that should be beneficial to disabled women and service systems. It could deepen the understanding of which kind of violence affects or actuate other kinds of violence as well as offering a better ground to analyse how structures and cultures encourage and minimize abuse in the lives of disabled women.”
We also met up with all four of the Disabled Survivors Unite co-founders from the UK – Alice Kirkby, Ashley Stephens, Holly Scott-Gardner and¬† Bekki Smiddy. Here is their blog of the day with a audio recording and transcript. There was much appreciation of their testimonies.
John Pring of Disability News Service wrote the article¬† ‘Cuts mean government ‚Äėis complicit in high levels of domestic violence‚Äô on their appearance.
Ana Pel√°ez, the Chair of the European Disability Forum (EDF) Women‚Äôs Committee and a member of its Executive Committee spoke on the structual problems faced by disabled women and girls
So the first thing we need to say is that violence against women and girls with disabilities is structural violence that arises from the mere fact that when we talk about their specific situation they are not recognised as women or girls. This non-recognition means they are excluded from policies aimed at providing assistance and recovery for women victims of violence. (Another related topic is the accessibility of these services, but today we don‚Äôt have time to go into this.)
A second structural aspect of violence against women and girls with disabilities is that in many cases they are victims of legal incapacitation which takes place due to their gender. This incapacitation is part of the process to enable these women to be subjected to forced sterilisation without their consent, or without their realising what is being done to them. This practise is another type of domestic violence in some ways, because it is the families who, in violation of the CRPD and even article 39 of the Istanbul Convention, choose to sterilise their daughters to protect them against unwanted pregnancies. I don‚Äôt mean to blame the families; they are also victims of the healthcare system, which very often suggests this type of practise. Sterilising a woman means mutilating not only her reproductive capacity, but also her civil, political and economic rights. In addition, the only thing sterilisation achieves is to leave girls and women with disabilities even more exposed to sexual abuse and rape. Even worse, they are also unable to access justice to report the perpetrators or seek remedies, because they have been deprived of their legal capacity.
Here is the Ana Pel√°ez EP¬† (Word doc) speech in full that she kindly send us.
It was wonderful to meet Madelen L√∂w from We Rise Again (Sweden) who spoke her powerful testimony
People who were involved with the event spoke of their willingness to have further collaboration on the topic – we hope so! We will continue to follow the discussions. There was much mention of the Istanbul Convention that we hope will be ratified soon by the UK.
More photos from the event at Flickr account
At the European Parliament Panel: Structural problems faced by disabled people, when accessing their full rights
Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2017
Hearing hosted by MEP Soraya Post S&D : Domestic violence against people with disability
MEP Soraya Post invited the civil society, NGO‚Äôs and Members of the Parliament to a hearing regarding domestic violence against people with disabilities, in order to raise awareness and put the issue on the political agenda
For the panel on Structural problems faced by people with disabilities, when accessing their full rights, Eleanor Lisney spoke for Sisters of Frida and ENIL (European Network of Independent Living)
(a summarised version was given due to meeting running out of time )
Thank you very much to Soraya Post MEP – for this opportunity to speak.
Sisters of Frida is an experimental collective of disabled women. We want a new way of sharing experiences, mutual support and relationships with different networks.
We are seeking to build a/or different networks of disabled women.
We would like a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women and allies to discuss, share our experiences and explore possibilities. So at this moment we remain strictly a female group – female includes anybody who self identify as female.
- – unfunded, we focus on issues specifically to do with disabled women ‚Äďthere is a gap in Women‚Äôs organisations and disabled people‚Äôs organisations
- – advocate disabled women‚Äôs rights ‚Äď we went to UN CEDAW examination with other UK women NGOs to Geneva and the UN CSW (Commission on Status of Women)
- – we re part of ROFA ‚Äď Reclaiming our Future Alliance for CRPD shadow report
- – we have spoken on events on social justice, on intersectionality and on domestic violence
- – we spoke for disabled women at the Global Summit to end sexual violence in conflict
The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a Europe-wide network of disabled people,¬† Independent Living organisations and their non-disabled allies on the issues of Independent Living. ENIL represents the disability movement for human rights and social inclusion based on solidarity, peer support, deinstitutionalisation, democracy, self-representation, cross disability and self-determination
Speaking on structural problems when accessing full rights for disabled people, I would like to emphasise the importance of access ‚Äď
- Access to education ‚Äď this includes sex education where disabled people are often excluded, and education is a key to being able to access rights, being aware of rights need you to be literate which leads on to
- Access to information ‚Äď including web accessibility, for knowing what‚Äôs happening and how, where, when to go to for help and make your voice known in consultations
- Access to the built environment – physical access and independent living so that you are not trapped in your home or a residential place, having the right assistive equipment and care ( personal assistance.)
- Access to justice ‚Äď you can have the most wonderful legislation enshrining your rights but if you cannot get to them because you do not have the socio economic means, they would might as well not be there ‚Äď legal aid is essential
Societal attitudes is also an impediment ie. Stigmas and societal discrimination (social model of disability)
Rashida Manjoo : UN special rapporteur on sexual violence said
- “Violence against women needs to be addressed within the broader struggles against inequality and gender-based discrimination.” Rape and domestic violence do not occur in a vacuum, but within a culture shaped and influenced by issues such as normalised harassment in public spaces and the dehumanising objectification of women in the media.
Where disabled women are concerned, there is such a low expectancy to have relationships of any kind that they internalized a low esteem, supposing that they are ‚Äėlucky‚Äô to be in a relationship even if it is an abusive relationship and there is a real fear of care support being withdrawn.¬† Disabled women see violence and abuse as ‚Äúpart of life‚ÄĚ : there are high levels of violence, with very low rates of reporting. Violence and abuse happen behind closed doors: at home, in day centres, in residential homes, in supported accommodation, in special hospitals and on mental health ward. Few disabled women access mainstream support services. There is also poor access to justice and often no response
A 2014 study found that only around 15% of rapes recorded by police as crimes resulted in rape charges being brought against a suspect. The research shows that more than 80% of people reporting rape to the Metropolitan Police are vulnerable to sexual attack (women with psychosocial disabilities and women with learning disabilities) but that these same vulnerabilities mean their cases are less likely to be result in a suspect being charged.
Professor Stanko‚Äôs (Professor Betsy Stanko 2014) research into how the Police deal with rape victims showed that women with mental health issues are 40 per cent less likely to have their case referred to the police for prosecution than women without mental health issues. Women with learning difficulties were 67 per cent less likely to have their case referred.
‚ÄúThese women face almost unsurmountable obstacles to justice, their rape is highly unlikely to carry a sanction, and in that sense, it is decriminalised.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúVictim vulnerabilities effectively protect suspects from being perceived as credible rapists‚ÄĚ.
Lastly, there is also the intersectional ( such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and immigration status) ) aspect of structural barriers – access is about more than just ramps – my needs may be about faith or culture, or about how you explain things to me, or getting the right interpreter who uses sign language that I can understand. My barriers may be compounded if I am a Indian lesbian deaf wheelchair user for example.
Sisters of Frida works with StaySafe East in London who has years of experience working with disabled survivors. I suggest asking them for advice on best practice on helping disabled people caught in domestic violence.
Having support for independent living is one of the fundamental needs of disabled people and the structural barriers of being able to exercise our rights is in our battles with social services, schools, higher education, housing, stigmas and discrimination and ableism.