This report has been updated on 13th May 2012
Many thanks to Dr Armineh Soorenian for this report
Since May 2010, the Coalition Government has introduced âReform of Welfare Provisionsâ – a large-scale comprehensive spending review, proposing substantial cuts in public spending scheduled to take place over the next three years.Â The current paper recognises that due to these cuts, disabled women are disproportionally affected (Willitts, 2010).Â On this account, the Home Secretary, Theresa May warned the Chancellor of the Exchequer that cuts imposed in the June 2010 Emergency Budget may be in breach of the Equality Act (EA) 2010 (Dodd, 2010).Â The adverse effects of the cuts on women, pensioners, minority ethnic groups and disabled people were considered by May to be illegal.Â Moreover, the Labour Party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson, Yvette Cooper, highlighted that women will face more than 70 per cent of these cuts; making it more likely that they will lose their jobs.Â They will also be hit hardest by cuts in services and welfare benefits (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).Â This paper identifies some of the key disability and gender discriminatory issues experienced by disabled women in Britain.Â The current work has been supported by secondary evidence and data, both quantitative and qualitative, obtained through previous research, and demonstrates how disabled women are disproportionally disadvantaged by the austerity measures implemented by the current Government.
Prior to 1995, there was a clear lack of anti-discriminatory legislation to protect disabled people in the United Kingdom (UK).Â Since this time, subsequent UK governments have developed policies aimed at addressing barriers to mainstream living for disabled people; with the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) marking a significant step in this direction.Â In addition to the DDA, from 1976, gender equality legislation (including the first Sex Equality Act) has been on the statutes.Â The 2006 EA (EA, 2006) introduced the public sector duty to promote gender equality and develop gender equality schemes.Â Thereby, public organisations were required to identify gender equality objectives and document how these were achieved.Â Subsequently, in the public sector, the EA, which came into force in October 2010 (EA, 2010), replaces, âharmonises and in some respects extendsâ (Government Equalities Office and Equality and Diversity Forum, 2010: 3) the existing anti-discrimination laws for race, disability and gender.Â The EA allows âmeasures to be targeted at women, for example to enable them to gain employment or access health servicesâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 37). Â The Equality Duty then requires public bodies to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment because of gender, as well as other conduct unlawful under the EA; to promote equality of opportunity and foster good relations between men and women (CEDAW report, 2011).
Irrespective of gender, disabled people on the whole, encounter countless barriers and discrimination in their daily lives.Â Seventy-five per cent of disabled women and 70 per cent of disabled men are already at the bottom end of Britainâs income distribution scale, left to live in poverty (DPAC, 2010b).Â Disabled women experience dual discrimination because of their statuses as âdisabledâ and âwomenâ. Â The situation is even worse for disabled women from minority groups such as older women and those belonging to minority ethnic groups.Â In reference to disabled people at large, as Goodley and Roets (2008: 240) argue, it may be politically productive to address disabled people âas a heterogeneous group, with many âimpair-mentsâ (and other) labels who face a number of overlapping experiences of exclusionâ.Â Yet, as demonstrated in this report, the statistics fail to recognise that disabled people are not a homogenous group and include disabled women as well as men.Â This is partly due to a general lack of data disaggregated from a gender and disability perspective.Â Additionally, disabled women often remain invisible in mainstream legislation/policy for women.Â Disabled womenâs issues are still under-researched, and their concerns are overlooked in the area of dominate policy.Â Therefore, disabled womenâs needs are often excluded in the mainstream Disability Movement as well as the Womenâs Movement (Keogh, 2012), which explains the lack of both qualitative and quantitative data specifically about disabled women in all the areas discussed below.
There are over ten million disabled adults (age 16+) in the UK (including limiting long standing illnesses) â an equivalent to 24 per cent of the adult population on the whole (Papworth Trust, 2011).Â Nearly eight million people, or 20 per cent of the working age population (between ages of 16-64) in the UK have a âdisabilityâ – 54 per cent of people in this group are economically active (4.3 million); 46 per cent are economically inactive (3.7 million) (Papworth Trust, 2011).
Disabled people make up around 1/3 of the NHS users in Britain (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Certain health problems particularly impact women.Â For instance, women are two and a half times more likely than men to experience anxiety and depression (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).Â Although the UK Government has âmade clear its intention to create a new approach to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalitiesâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 180); disabled women face a number of obstacles in the area of health and social care.Â This includes inaccessible health centres and facilities, and lack of information related to their health (International Network of Women with Disabilities, 2012).Â The NHSâs procedures and practices are considered to be designed for patients who are ill but not disabled (Bailey, 2012).Â The medical professionalsâ poor attitude, particularly towards disabled womenâs sexual and reproductive health, can also pose another barrier to using the medical services (Sen et al., 2007).Â This is often exaggerated by inadequate sex education, inhibiting âcareâ systems and unhelpful healthcare practitioners and services (Liddiard, 2012).Â Yet, the Government claims:
Pregnancy offers a unique opportunity to engage women from all sections of society, with the right support through pregnancy and at the start of life being vital for improving life chances and tackling cycles of disadvantage. There is a focus on improving both outcomes for women and babies and womenâs experience of care, a priority in the NHS Outcomes Framework for 2011-12. (CEDAW report, 2012: Paragraph 176).
Most health-care providers in and out of institutions seem to have negative attitudes towards pregnant disabled women, providing little or no help for them either before or after becoming pregnant; and even suggest abortion or sterilisation, particularly if the disabled woman is said to have any degree of learning difficulties (Howard & Handy, 2004).Â By turning a private, sensitive womanly issue public, the medical staff can absolve themselves of any responsibility in their dealings with pregnancy complications and its âintimidatingâ consequences.Â Like the mother of a young woman with learning difficulties (pregnant with her second child), who broke down in tears as she pleaded with a high court judge to allow her daughter toÂ be forcibly sterilised âfor her protectionâ (McVeigh, 2011), the families of disabled women may be of a similar attitude but perhaps with differing reasons.Â âMany of the parents feel that because they have already exerted so much energy raising a disabled child, they donât want the burden of raising their childrenâs children.â (Degener, 1992: 120).Â The fundamental message seems to be that a large proportion of disabled women have no right to reproduction.Â It is assumed that this is in the âbest interestâ of both the woman and the unborn child, whereas the underlying reason is that the community remains intolerant of disabled people.Â This political and scientific decision, whilst on superficial levels may benefit the state economy, is un-dignifying for disabled women and devalues the life of disabled people and their families: âIn short they (disabled people) see prenatal testing and selective abortion as being rooted in and perpetuating the oppression of disabled people.â (Bailey, 1996: 144).Â The effects of sexuality-based discrimination on the sexual and reproductive health of disabled Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) women is of equal significance.
In addition, Social Services budgets have been subject to extreme pressure; nearly all Social Services departments have been told to reduce their budgets by 25 per cent (DPAC Project, 2010), which has a knock-on effect to their provision of support services and the amount people need to contribute financially.Â Similar to many councils, the Lancashire county council is raising the eligibility threshold for supporting disabled people from âmoderateâ to âsubstantialâ, saving ÂŁ2.5 million a year for the next two years.Â This council also plans to cut spending on personal budgets and âhome careâ by ÂŁ12 million over three years; and increase revenue from charging by more than ÂŁ5.5 million over four years, as two older disabled womenâs case in this county illustrated (Admin, 2011).Â In short, local authorities all over the country are cutting the amount of âcareâ funding available, tightening eligibility criteria, and increasing charges for those who are still eligible for âcareâ to be able to live independently (DPAC, 2010b).
The Disabled Peopleâs Movement has attempted to redefine the meaning of âindependentâ living. Â Rather than implying âdoing things for yourselfâ or being âself-sufficientâ, disabled people have argued that independence, as autonomy and self-determination, can be achieved by having choice and control over any support needed to lead their daily lives.Â This definition has long been at odds with the ways âcare servicesâ have traditionally understood âindependentâ living (Morris, 2011).
Make the medical and health facilities accessible, and train medical professionals to be aware of disability/gender related issues, so that they can be sensitive towards all disabled womenâs concerns.Â Improving access to mental health services for disabled women must be accomplished by services that respect the right of disabled women to make their own choices, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (International Network of Women with Disabilities, 2012).Â Allocate more financial resources to Social Service departments, requiring them to use the interpretations of social model of disability, when assessing disabled peopleâs support needs for a âcare packageâ.
Despite the Governmentâs claims to welcome âmedia challenge to stereotypes and portrayal of women in a positive mannerâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 49); today, in literature, films, commercial and media imagery, specifically disabled womenâs positive representations, which could set examples for other disabled women tend to be missing (Scarlet, 2012).Â Disabled women have often been represented in a lonely, innocent and pitiful state, as having evil being done to them (Lonsdale, 1990).Â She is depicted as unable to hold ânormalâ friendships/relationships with others, particularly with the opposite sex (Kent, 1987).Â Other women appear to be less threatened by her presence in competing for menâs attention, and take the roles of sympathisers (as mothers) towards the disabled woman rather than having healthy friendships with her (Kent, 1987).Â To perpetuate these perceptions, very recently, on the 3 April 2012, the British TV company – Channel 4 has broadcast a sensational series called âThe Undateablesâ.Â âIf âThe Undateablesâ seems an offensive title for a show, then that is probably the marketing aim for a TV channel in the quest for audience. Above a patronising voiceover, viewers are told from the opening that they’re about to see a group of âextraordinary singletonsâ when in fact we see the opposite: six single people who happen to be disabled.â (UK Disabled Peopleâs Council & European Disability Forum, 2012: unpaged).
The media has a significant role to play in the relationship between disabled and non-disabled people. Â Despite major efforts by disabled people in favour of integration, or inclusion; reflecting the media portrayals, disabled people are often invisible from the society. Â The limited representations of disabled people are mainly un-dignified and subjects of uncomfortable voyeurism as âThe Undatablesâ proved â depicting extraordinary singletons desperate to seduce.
To reinforce disabled peopleâs exclusion from public life and the prevailing prejudice against then, today in Brittan, disabled people in general are portrayed and falsely labeled in the media as at worst, outright benefit scroungers, and at best social burdens who are unable to contribute to society in any meaningful way (Boffey, 2011).Â With such pejorative language, disabled people are accused of being âunsustainable, unproductive or immoral members of their communitiesâ (Jolly, 2011: unpaged).Â They are perceived to not be disabled at all, but âprofiting from fraudulent benefit claimsâ (Jolly, 2011: unpaged).
On the contrary, disabled people are not chits or workshy (DPAC, 2010b), but excluded by physical and attitudinal barriers in the work place.Â There are currently 1.3 million disabled people in the UK who are available for, and indeed want, to work (Office for National Statistics, 2009).Â The societal limitation in creating an accessible work environment with suitable support and adaptations for disabled people â an economic, social and political solution – is overlooked; instead disabled people are blamed for their failure to be economically productive.Â Yet, reflecting the media, societal attitudes appear to be of a kind that disabled people must be âlazyâ and get âsomething for nothingâ as a âLifestyle Choiceâ.
The Government expects that the media ought to âabide by the law including laws on discriminationâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 50). Â Yet, it was found that incidents of negative language about disabled people like âburdenâ, âscroungerâ and âcheatâ in print media had increased over the time; whilst sympatheticâ accounts of disability discrimination had almost disappeared in the tabloid press such as the âMirrorâ, the âSunâ, the âDaily Mailâ, the âDaily Expressâ, and for balance the âGuardianâ (Jolly, 2011: unpaged).Â Variations were also found in the way different impairment groups were depicted; those with a physical or sensory impairment were more likely to receive sympathetic treatment from the media than other groups such as people with learning difficulties (Briant et al., 2011). Â In short, much of the coverage in the tabloid press is âat best questionable and some of it is deeply offensiveâ (Briant et al., 2011: 12).Â The increased concentration on benefit fraud with outlandish claims that over 70 per cent of people on disability benefits are frauds is an example of this kind of coverage.Â These attitudes are fueled and reinforced by the Governmentâs misleading claims about âDisability Living Allowanceâ (DLA) and âEmployment Support Allowanceâ (ESA) – by such claims as Iain Duncan Smithâs (MP welfare and pensionsâ secretary).Â In the âSunâ newspaper in 2011, he implied that disabled people were responsible for the UK deficit (Jolly, 2011).Â ââŚ some articles even blaming the recession itself on incapacity benefit claimants âŚâ (Briant et al., 2011: 40).
This stereotyped and victimised image of disabled people in general, and disabled women in particular, does little to help their integration and equal participation in the mainstream society, reducing their visibility as political actors in creating and maintaining human rights and equality.Â It negates the gains in social acceptance won by the Disabled Peopleâs Movement over the last few decades (Boffey, 2011).Â In relation to PC Rathbandâs suicide, Prof Barnes of Centre for Disability Studies at University of Leeds states that in the current climate, negative images and perceptions of disabled people on the whole are mostly informed by stereotypes, which come from wider society and which are perpetuated by the media (Disability Now, 2012).
It is to no surprise then that rise in disability hate crime (discussed in the following sections) has been on increase, which has contributed to a highly inflammatory atmosphere, and is associated with the ideological message of the media strategy on the demonising of disabled people (Jolly, 2011).Â After all, it was words such as âspasticâ, âcrippleâ, âscumâ, âscroungerâ that made Peter Greener (a disabled man who was physically and verbally abused by his neighbours) feel suicidal and on antidepressants.Â The climate of fear is certainly working; some disabled people are frightened to leave their homes because of physical threats and accusations of benefit frauds.Â Glenelg (2012: unpaged) in an article in the âGuardianâ newspaper reports Willitsâs (a disabled woman) experience of being verbally abused: âA few months ago, I was followed by a man I had never met before. For the length of the street where I live, he shouted âfucking DLA stick!â at me every few seconds.â
Increase media images of disabled women with diverse backgrounds in positive roles.Â Educate media about the discrimination disabled people experience, and encourage them to report the ârealâ stories.
Disabled people are said to have a vision of a welfare state, which through a progressive taxation system would create resources available to have a level playing field to experience the same life opportunities as non- disabled people (Morris, 2012).Â The United Nations (UN) Convention â in particular Article 19 â recognises that without such provision, disabled peopleâs human rights are at risk.Â In contrast, the current welfare system assumes that to rely on publicly-funded benefits and services is to be avoided, reserved only for a residual group of âdeservingâ – the most âvulnerableâ.Â The system assumes that disability benefits/services have been too âgenerousâ, reinforcing unnecessary âdependencyâ (Morris, 2012: unpaged).Â Therefore, disability and income related benefits are being granted under more stringent conditions as well as imposing sanctions in order to incentivise people âoff welfare and into workâ.Â Morris (2012: unpaged) refers to the benefit system as âat best paternalistic and at worst punitiveâ, unable to recognise that some disabled people will always be less able to work, or to work for the same length and earn as much as non-disabled people, regardless of the amount of âincentiveâ, which is provided by cutting benefits.Â The recent closure of Remploy (supporting disabled people into mainstream employment), and the struggling economy has also proved to be unhelpful to many disabled people.
A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2004) reported that disabled people, who receive maximum benefit, experience a shortfall of ÂŁ200 on a weekly basis compared to the amount required for them to lead a minimum standard of living, and an equal life to that of their non-disabled counter-parts.Â Disabled peopleâs day-to-day living costs, including mobility aids, personal care and transport are 25 per cent higher than those of non-disabled people (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Yet, a think tank has warned that disabled people will be hit with more than ÂŁ9 billion (ÂŁ140 per month) in welfare cuts over the next five years (DEMOS, 2010).
More than 2.5 million people receive âIncapacity Benefitâ (IB) (which was for people unable to work because of health or impairment) or ESA (DEMOS, 2010).Â Disabled people are gradually being moved from IB to ESA and will have to be re-assessed.Â Yet, this benefit is being rolled out on an ongoing basis.Â Those deemed fit enough to work are moved on to âJobseeker’s Allowanceâ (JSA) instead.Â Demos (2010) calculated the impact of moving 500,000 people from IB to JSA would amount to a loss of ÂŁ4.87 billion, indicating less money for the individual (114,066 disabled people moved from IB and ESA to JSA will lose ÂŁ994 million, and less one-on-one employment support).Â Others are pushed to undertake employment without suitable support and adaptation.Â The DEMOS report (2010) indicates that the move will result in more disabled people being trapped in long-term unemployment, costing the taxpayer far more than at present.
This is in addition to the 20 per cent cut to the DLA (this benefit was originally introduced to compensate for the additional costs of being disabled, such as higher heating bills or buying pre-prepared foods) (Marsh, 2011).Â Reducing this allowance will restrict disabled peopleâs freedom to manage their own spending, which contradicts with the Governmentâs agenda of implementing personal budgets.Â The survey by Essex Coalition of Disabled People (2010) found 57 per cent of DLA claimants fear their benefit may be taken away, and 2/3 felt their level of support would be at risk.
The Governmentâs Welfare Reform Bill will abolish DLA for working age adults (16-64 years of age).Â They will need to be reassessed for the new benefit, the âPersonal Independence Paymentâ (PIP).Â The planned new PIP will not cover some of the areas the DLA contributes towards, because through its introduction, the Government intends to cut the amount paid out by 20 per cent.Â The PIP will have no equivalent low-rate âcareâ payment, meaning that the 643,000 people receiving this support from DLA are now at risk of losing help (Disability Alliance, 2012).Â Many claimants with visual impairment also may lose their higher rate mobility award, which was only recently won after years of campaigning (Dolphin, 2012).Â Additionally, the new PIP consultation does not take in extra costs related to being female.Â Disabled women have higher costs for âpersonal careâ issues, and thus can be further disadvantaged.Â The most obvious corrupt interpretation of the social model of disability is considered to be in the Governmentâs proposals related to a new assessment framework for the PIP (Morris, 2011). Â It does not take a holistic approach or account for âmotivationsâ, social and practical as well as physical barriers disabled people face in returning to employment (Wood & Grant, 2010).Â The assessments are not necessarily carried out by a medical doctor; 40 per cent of rejected claims go through an appeal with up to 70 per cent of those decisions being overturned (Marsh, 2011).Â As the following case illustrates the emotional impact of such intrusive medical assessments are irreversible.Â In an article in the âGuardianâ newspaper, Butler (2011: unpaged) reports:âElaine Christian, 57, of Hull, was worried, according to reports of an inquest in July, about a meeting to assess her disability benefits.Â She was found drowned in a drain with evidence of ingested painkillers and ten self-inflicted cuts to her wrist.Â Although she left a suicide note, an open verdict was recorded.Â Her husband told the inquest: âShe [Elaine] was worried about the assessment, but was never one to complainâ.
âPeople over 65 receiving DLA appear to have avoided this round of cuts.Â However, the Welfare Reform Bill does include provisions automatically to end PIP payments at the point when someone retires or turns 65.Â This means that people receiving PIP would have to apply for âAttendance Allowanceâ (AA).Â The AA provides no mobility support and, this change could see thousands of older disabled people losing crucial support and the ability to continue living independently (Disability Alliance, 2012).
Moreover, older disabled womenâs impairments may significantly affect the quality of their lives (Banks et al., 2006), yet they may not satisfy current DLA criteria for age related reasons (Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom, 2011).Â Therefore, with the rising cost of living generally and extra costs of disability particularly, disabled people living on benefits will be further limited (Willitts, 2010).The Governmentâs aim in introducing the PIP is to cut 20 per cent of DLA costs by 2015-16, a saving of ÂŁ2.1 billion.Â To do so, the Government intends to pay ÂŁ675 million for a new assessment process to ensure the PIP is not accessed by as many people as DLA.Â Yet, the DLA fraud rate is reported to be less than 0.5% (Birch, 2011).Â In nearly all of those cases, the âfraudâ is actually that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) considers that someone has had, and failed to report, a significant change in circumstances e.g. recovering from a physical injury.
Ministers also plan to stop paying out cash in the form of âIndependent Living Fundâ (ILF) to help more than 21,000 âseverelyâ disabled people, who live in their own homes.Â The fund, set up in 1988, pays (maximum ÂŁ475 per week) for âcarersâ and other help so âseverelyâ disabled people can live at home rather than moving into âcare homesâ.Â It was announced in June 2011 that the fund was refusing all new claims.Â Whether this funding will continue at all is still uncertain.Â As the following ILF users demonstrate, the effects of losing ILF are devastating for many disabled people:
As half my care package is ILF I would first have no control over my toilet needs, this may result in me being catheterised. I am not unable to get out of bed or in bed myself, nor can I dress myself. I need support in all personal care needs, including keeping clean etc. I would not be able to attend any meetings when various government and NGOs ask me to be part of their various consultation plans. I would have no control over what time I got up or what time I went to bed therefore I would have no social life whatsoever. When ILF finishes in 2015 I will not have any social life. This will mean I will not be able to visit friends, attend the cinema or theatre, go to my bridge club or attend a primary school to assist children to read. I will no longer be able to use my car for shopping taking my dog to the woods etc. Having campaigned for the last 26 years this will end as I need support to do this. I regularly attend course on photography and employment issues â these will not be possible without ILF funding. (Admin2, 2012: unpaged).
I am a 44 year old digital artist/editor & film maker, a lot of time is spent travelling to locations for shoots, I can’t imagine how I would manage without ILF which funds a third of my care package, to lose such vital funding will probably change my life in a way presently I do not want to think about, however, as the government is pushing this legislation through regardless, I have to consider my position. Ultimately I fear that any real & significant control in my life and how I presently choose to live my life will be significantly curtailed. I know in this present political climate, any changes will be presented to the general public in a way that suggests no âsignificant” change, “the disabled” are worrying needlessly etc, but the reality has to be heard. I will have to make my PAâs redundant, relying on goodwill of friends or volunteers would not be feasible. I would lose control of my life. (Admin2, 2012: unpaged).
I am a 40 year old ex archaeologist, living in busy East London, and it would be impossible to manage if I lost my ILF. This funds 50% of my care package, so the loss of ILF would mean that I would lose my independence. At the moment I live independently and use my ILF to maximise my independence, to access the community, to do voluntary work in three different places. This government has pushed legislation through in a way which challenges human rights. Without ILF I would lose my home and my independence and would be forced to rely on my aged father and sleep on his floor as his house is inaccessible. (Admin2, 2012: unpaged).
In addition, almost 65,000 disabled people (including those with profound mental health issues) are at risk of losing their homes because of a cut in mortgage payment support for vulnerable people, according to the body representing housing associations (Ramesh, 2010).Â Around 59,000 disabled people use the benefit to help them pay mortgages on homes they have bought.Â A further 5,000 people with profound physical impairments and mental health issues have used the state payments to secure niche mortgages to pay for shared ownership homes â provided by housing associations â through which buyers purchase a fraction, usually more than a quarter, of the property and pay rent on the rest (Ramesh, 2010).Â Since many of the claimants would not qualify for the best deals from high street banks, the scheme allows them to access rates which are comparable to those available to people who are not disabled.Â Most of those who take up the benefit are first-time buyers with a total household income of less than ÂŁ60,000.Â A sizeable minority are home owners who can show that their houses are no longer suitable for their needs (Ramesh, 2010).Â They may have long-term support needs, have a full-time â’carerâ, or need to live close to a medical centre.Â However, this benefit, which pays the interest on a mortgage, is to be reduced from its present value of 6.08% to what the Government says is the Bank of England average mortgage rate of 3.67% â a cut that means a loss of ÂŁ1,300 annually for every ÂŁ100,000 borrowed (Ramesh, 2010).
The National Housing Federation commented that at least 64,000 people will be at risk of falling behind on mortgage payments; with those affected struggling to keep up with their payments, falling into arrears and eventually losing their properties (Ramesh, 2010).Â Changes to the amounts paid to mortgage interest for disabled claimants have been estimated to potentially lead to an additional 64,000 disabled people becoming homeless.
Furthermore, the Chartered Institute of Housing has calculated that the cumulative effects of the Coalition’s proposals mean that by 2020 every tenantâs (both in social housing and in the private sector) âHousing Benefitâ (HB) will be too low to cover their rent (Ramesh, 2012).Â There are also plans to remove any security of tenure from social housing tenants and to increase rents to 80 per cent of market values.Â Together with the caps on HB, this will make renting in the social housing sector unaffordable in many higher priced areas of the country.Â Disabled people will only be able to afford to rent in the cheapest properties in an area, which are more than likely to be inaccessible.Â This will exaggerate the difficulties disabled people face in finding suitable accommodation to live independently, increase homelessness amongst disabled people and push them further into poverty, especially if DLA recipients are cut by 1/5 as planned by DWP.
From 2013, HB for working age social rented sector customers will be restricted for those who are occupying a larger property than their household size would warrant (DPAC, 2010a).Â The 670,000 households â 2/3 containing a disabled family member â will be hit by an average ÂŁ670 penalty every year, because they are deemed to have a spare bedroom (Orr, 2011).Â It means that if one is living in an adapted property (with an extra bedroom), which may have cost thousands of pounds to adapt, but she/he has no apparent need for the extra bedroom, she/he will only get HB paid at the one bedroom rate.Â This is something that the Labour Government and DWP tried to introduce in Welfare Reform Bill 2007, but were forced to drop by pressure from Housing Associations (DPAC, 2010a).
Time limiting HB customers who are claiming JSA will only receive their full HB award for a period of 12 months (DPAC, 2010a).Â After that their benefit will be reduced by ten per cent, and they will continue to be ineligible for the full out of work HB rate until after they have left the benefit system and been in work for a period.Â This needs to be understood in conjunction with the work capability assessment for ESA, which is designed to get as many disabled people as possible off IB and into non-existent jobs, which should be completed by 2013 (DPAC, 2010a).Â Therefore, this will affect a large number of disabled people.
Reforms to benefits and services risk leaving disabled people without the support they need to live independently restrictions in local authority eligibility criteria for social care support, the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and changes to housing benefit risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people. (JCHR, 2012: unpaged).
The DEMOS report (2010) concluded that by 2015, 98,170 single disabled people will lose ÂŁ127 million.Â This finding on its own can force many disabled women to stay in abusive relationships and endure hardship.Â This is in addition to cuts to womenâs services, cuts to legal aid and police, and cuts to transport and street lighting that offer safety and a lifeline to many women living in refuges and rebuilding their lives after escaping a violent relationship (Harris, 2012).Â It can therefore be argued that disabled women are more at risk of domestic abuse if they lose their financial security and houses because of the benefit cuts.Â Commenting on these drastic cuts, Richard Whitehurst of DPAC said:
These vicious cuts have already led to at least 31 disabled people committing suicide and many more are now talking about it as they feel they have no future. In the 21st century, in one of the richest nations in the world, disabled people should not be forced to live in fear every day of their lives. (Benefitsclaimantsfightback, 2012: unpaged).
On this account, Radnage (2011) reports a disabled couple, Mark and Helen Mullins, who are said to have killed themselves at their rundown home after being reduced to despair as they struggled to live off just ÂŁ57.50.Â Once a week, Mark told the interviewer for the âGuardianâ newspaper, they would undertake a 12-mileround trip on foot to the food kitchen.Â The free vegetables they brought back with them to would be made into seven days worth of soup, cooked on a single gas ring set up in the one habitable room in the house in which they lived (Butler, 2011).
Create a fair system which assesses disabled womenâs gender and disability specific needs and entitles them to benefits accordingly.Â The system must assess disability, housing and income benefit entitlement on a case by case basis, rather than impose a one size fits all model on disabled women.Â Simplify the application process to the benefit system.Â Most importantly, the system should recognise that disabled people are experts on their needs and the difficulties they face. Â The benefits should allow for them to remove the barriers they experience on a daily basis.Â
In the area of health and social care, it is reported that the rural local authorities already receive lower funding allocations than urban areas, and therefore are less likely to provide social care at the lower FACS levels: âThrough the Personalisation programme disabled women will have to purchase support and care but there are few economies of scale to attract providers in rural areas and higher costs, so the range of services available look set to diminish and cost of purchasing increase.â (Firman, 2012: unpaged).Â The negative impact of these cuts on disabled rural womenâs health and well-being as well as quality of life is therefore considerable.
In the rural areas, the lack of job centres forces disabled women to travel long distances to begin the search for jobs, which âposes a particularly significant barrier to work and training options for rural disabled women and increased risk exposure if travelling alone.â (Firman, 2012: unpaged).
Additionally, disabled people are more likely to consider public transport as a significant aspect of their mobility (Jolly et al., 2006), and therefore are heavy users of bus and train services, especially in the rural areas.Â However, the current public spending cuts are impacting on the local authoritiesâ ability to support rural bus services (Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom, 2011).Â With the closure of local post offices and other amenities, this has a greater impact on disabled rural womenâs quality of life (Firman, 2012).
Whilst the UK Government claims to be âkeen to promote a range of transport solutions in rural communities, not just rural busesâ; in the same paragraph of the CEDAW report, it is suggested that the Government âgives local authorities the freedom to make the right decisions for their own communities and to assist local authorities to produce their Local Transport Plans.â (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 216).
As the âCampaign for Better Transportâ research (2011) indicates overall 70 per cent of the local authorities in England plan major cuts in bus services (Disability Alliance, 2011).Â This will restrict specifically disabled womenâs participation in mainstream life including political and cultural activities as well as their access to health services and education.Â The spending cuts of more than 40 per cent by the Department for Transport, will also lead to the loss of well-trained staff on the transport network who promote independent living by supporting disabled people in their travels (Peck, 2012), further isolating disabled people from mainstream life.
For disabled people, the alternative option to using public transport is to use private means of transportation.Â Estimated number of valid Blue Badge holders on 31 March 2010 was 2.55 million (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Yet, as Glenelg (2012) writes, when driving their private cars, disabled people are constantly scrutinised, needing to justify using their blue badge in public parking spaces.Â Glenelg (2012: unpaged) reports the following disabled personâs account in an article in the âGuardianâ newspaper: âIn the early days of my blue badge ownership, I was often glared at disapprovingly. I’d simply smile weakly and say I had multiple sclerosis. Most times that was enough, though once a burly aggressive gentleman spat out disparagingly âyou’re a liar. You can’t have that because they’re all in wheelchairsâ.â
Increase accessibility in public transport, and train bus/train staff to assist disabled travellers.Â
Disability Hate Crime and Equality Before the Law
Disabled people are significantly more likely to be victims of crime than non-disabled people.Â This gap is largest among 16-34 year-olds, where 38 per cent of disabled people reported they were a victim of crime compared to 30 per cent of non-disabled people (Papworth trust, 2011).Â More than 20 per cent of disabled people have experienced harassment in public because of their impairment.Â Harassment is the most common crime experienced by disabled people, followed by verbal abuse outside homes and repeat burglaries.Â Sixty-six per cent of people with a learning disability have been bullied regularly with 32 per cent stating that bullying was taking place on a daily or weekly basis (Papworth trust, 2011).
Furthermore, as James Wattsâs case (CPS, 2009) illustrated, disabled womenâs abuse in the âsafe environmentâ of their âcare homesâ is prevalent.Â Watts, a driver for a âcare homeâ for âseverely disabled adultsâ was charged with âfour counts of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder âŚ and two counts of sexual assaultâ (CPS, 2009: unpaged).Â To facilitate communication in court, an intermediary – a skilled professional – was involved to take evidence from the disabled women victims, who had cognitive and speech impairments.
The financial dependency of disabled women, particularly, on their families may result in living arrangements that subject them to different forms of abuse, including mental, physical and sexual violence (Thiara et al., 2011).Â The lack of accessible information and support for disabled women can prevent them from accessing social housing and shelter if a womanâs domestic living environment becomes unbearable.Â In some cases, the police officers are said to be inadequately trained both in terms of professional and personal attitude and approach to know how to deal with disabled victims in general.Â More specifically, ââŚ the needs of disabled women who are victims of violence have been neglected at all levels.â (Levy, 2012: unpaged).Fiona Pilkingtonâs case in October 2007 (Sturcke, 2010) demonstrated the influence of negative media portrayals, and the wide spread incidences of hate crime in disabled people and their familiesâ lives.Â Pilkington killed herself and her daughter Frankie, who had learning difficulties, following a hate campaign by local youths in the Leicestershire area.Â The campaign targeted Frankieâs learning disability, leading to this tragedy.Â Local police recorded Ms Pilkingtonâs complaints as evidence of anti-social behaviour, not as an on-going hate crime concern and âcry for helpâ.Â Sturcke (2010: unpaged) notes that âthe jury blamed poor sharing of information between the police and councils for contributing to the deaths, but also noted Pilkington had neither âsought nor acceptedâ help on occasionsâ.
On this account, disabled people are less likely than their non-disabled peers to think the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is fair (54 per cent as opposed to 61 per cent of non-disabled people).Â This gap is largest amongst 16-34 year-olds, where 49 per cent of disabled people think that the CJS is fair compared to 65 per cent of non-disabled people (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Disabled peopleâs access to justice system is also reported to be restricted due to access and attitudinal barriers (Ortoleva, 2011).Â Additionally, research (Ortoleva, 2011) has shown that a womanâs status as a witness, or her evidence, is accorded less respect/weight than that of a man.Â When a disabled womanâs legal capacity is limited in this way, she is denied of her rights to be equal with men and also to report and address disability/gender-based violence.Â Yet, the Government claims to have provided ÂŁ127,424 to the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) in December 2010, so that it could deliver tailored training on the EA. Â âThe funding provided four one-day non-residential training seminars for 180 judges who are likely to hear discrimination cases brought under the Equality Act.â (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 226).
Gemma Hayterâs case (Carter, 2011), a woman with learning disabilities who was viciously beaten by five so-called friends, led to a railway embankment and forced to drink urine before being stripped and left to die is another tragic story of similar disability/gender specific abuse.Â Another such case is that of Christine Lakinski (Disability Now, 2008), who collapsed near her home in 2007 in Hartlepool.Â Instead of helping her, her neighbour, Antony Anderson urinated over her as she lay dying, whilst he encouraged a friend to film the event.Â Yet, this incident was not treated as crime, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stated: âDefendant claimed that he thought that the victim was drunk or on drugs and there was no evidence to suggest that the defendant knew she was disabledâ.Â However, they were neighbours and she had a visible impairment.
In addition, the situation is worsened in some English counties, which have removed all funding to rape crisis and domestic abuse refuge services (UK Joint Committee on Women, 2011).Â The police and CPS are facing budget cuts; the voluntary organisations fear that the support available to victims and survivors of violence may be reduced (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011). Â Due to extremely limited resources, most disability organisations do not offer any specific services on domestic violence either (Thiara et al., 2011). Â Yet, the UK Government is said to provide âgrant funding of up to ÂŁ3.5 million annually, for the next three years, to support rape crisis centres.â (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 281).Â Although the UK Government claims to have invested in support and protection for victims in the CJS with such measures as âthe establishment of a network of Independent domestic violence and sexual violence advisors to provide support for victims of domestic violence and rape casesâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 269); the particular concerns of disabled women victims seen to have remained invisible.
Despite the new Strategic Vision of Department for International Development (DfID) to support âsurvivors of violence to seek legal redressâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 231); it is reported that in cities such as Coventry, the legal aid will be cut for welfare benefits, education and medical negligence advice, and severely reduced for debt, employment, family law, housing and immigration advice (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).Â These negative changes on womenâs lives generally, and disabled womenâs specifically, which can lead to breaches of their human rights include the following two pertinent points:
Therefore, disability charities and Justice Select Committee MPâs have further argued that the Governmentâs plans to cut civil legal aid for welfare benefits, unemployment tribunals and debt advice will make it difficult for disabled people to appeal a decision about their benefits (Inclusion London, 2011; Commons Select Committee, 2011).
Make the information on help for disabled women who are victim to any form of abuse available in different formats and languages.Â Increase the number of accessible domestic abuse refuge services.Â Make the justice system accessible to people with a range of impairments and backgrounds.
Education and training
It is reported that 23 per cent of disabled people have no qualifications compared with nine per cent of non-disabled people (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Adults with impairments are twice as likely to say their education opportunities are limited (17 per cent) compared with adults without impairments (nine per cent) (Office for National Statistics, 2011).In addition, disabled womenâs life time earnings are on average lower than non-disabled menâs (Papworth trust, 2011), which may mean it is more difficult for women to meet the increased costs of studying.Â Cuts to further and higher education may also prevent women obtaining educational qualifications, due to increased fees for higher education (HE) and reduced support for further education (FE), particularly for disabled women, who have additional support costs.Â Consequently, women who are unable to obtain educational qualifications resulting from increased fees and reduced disability support may see their earning potential and job opportunities further decreased (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).Moreover, there is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that in the British context, disabled students experience discrimination in HE, due to barriers such as inaccessible information and physical structures, as well as lack of funding and support (Collinson et al., 2011; Farrar, 2007; Soorenian, 2008).Â Non-disabled people are twice as likely to have studied at HE than disabled people (Grewal et al., 2002).Â Eleven per cent of working age disabled people hold a degree-level qualification compared to 22 per cent of working age non-disabled people (DWP, 2008b).Â In 2009-10, of the 959,060 people, who entered into HE, only seven per cent were disabled learners (Papworth trust, 2011).Â It is predicted that by 2020, 42 per cent of jobs will require a degree level qualification or above.Â Hence, there is a strong correlation between low skills and unemployment (Papworth trust, 2011).
As a result, disabled people experience more discrimination in everyday life generally, and in the job market specifically.Â As far back as 1991, Boylan argued that even though disabled women are deprived from the same standard of education as disabled men, when disabled women succeed in achieving high qualifications their prospects for finding desirable jobs remain limited.Â Consequently, many disabled women are economically weak and dependent on others (Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom, 2011).Â A limited, or indeed complete lack of education, can have a negative impact on disabled women in later life.Â Older disabled women from ethnic minority communities, for example, often have limited access to training and employment options through online resources mostly due to the poor formal education received (Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom, 2011).
Create inclusive education practices, both at school and at university level.Â
Education and training
It is reported that 23 per cent of disabled people have no qualifications compared with nine per cent of non-disabled people (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Adults with impairments are twice as likely to say their education opportunities are limited (17 per cent) compared with adults without impairments (nine per cent) (Office for National Statistics, 2011).
In addition, disabled womenâs life time earnings are on average lower than non-disabled menâs (Papworth trust, 2011), which may mean it is more difficult for women to meet the increased costs of studying.Â Cuts to further and higher education may also prevent women obtaining educational qualifications, due to increased fees for higher education (HE) and reduced support for further education (FE), particularly for disabled women, who have additional support costs.Â Consequently, women who are unable to obtain educational qualifications resulting from increased fees and reduced disability support may see their earning potential and job opportunities further decreased (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).
Moreover, there is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that in the British context, disabled students experience discrimination in HE, due to barriers such as inaccessible information and physical structures, as well as lack of funding and support (Collinson et al., 2011; Farrar, 2007; Soorenian, 2008).Â Non-disabled people are twice as likely to have studied at HE than disabled people (Grewal et al., 2002).Â Eleven per cent of working age disabled people hold a degree-level qualification compared to 22 per cent of working age non-disabled people (DWP, 2008b).Â In 2009-10, of the 959,060 people, who entered into HE, only seven per cent were disabled learners (Papworth trust, 2011).Â It is predicted that by 2020, 42 per cent of jobs will require a degree level qualification or above.Â Hence, there is a strong correlation between low skills and unemployment (Papworth trust, 2011).
As a result, disabled people experience more discrimination in everyday life generally, and in the job market specifically.Â As far back as 1991, Boylan argued that even though disabled women are deprived from the same standard of education as disabled men, when disabled women succeed in achieving high qualifications their prospects for finding desirable jobs remain limited.Â Consequently, many disabled women are economically weak and dependent on others (Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom, 2011).Â A limited, or indeed complete lack of education, can have a negative impact on disabled women in later life.Â Older disabled women from ethnic minority communities, for example, often have limited access to training and employment options through online resources mostly due to the poor formal education received (Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom, 2011).
Create inclusive education practices, both at school and at university level.
Disabled peopleâs social mobility is said to be on a sharp decline (Wood et al., 2011).Â The employment rates of disabled people are around 48 per cent, compared with around 78 per cent of non-disabled people (DWP, 2011).Â Due to factors such as a lack of job opportunities, inaccessible transport, employer prejudice and barriers or family responsibilities, 56 per cent of adults with impairments face restrictions in the paid work they can undertake compared with 26 per cent of adults without impairments (Office for National Statistics, 2011).Â Without recognising the difficulties that disabled lone parents may face when returning to work, the UK Government announced in June 2010 that âit expects lone parents to look for work when their youngest child goes to schoolâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 161). Â Thus disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people (Papworth trust, 2011).Â In 2008, 19 per cent of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13 per cent of non-disabled people (DWP, 2008a).Â The average gross hourly pay for disabled employees, for example, is ÂŁ11.08 compared to ÂŁ12.30 for non-disabled employees (Office for National Statistics, 2009).
Furthermore, disabled women are far less likely to be in employment than non-disabled women and suffer widespread discrimination (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).Â Despite the Governmentâs claim to have introduced âreforms to remove barriers to workâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 159); disabled women are said to experience extreme levels of exclusion and more discrimination in the search of a suitable job in the workplace, from colleagues and employers, based on sexist and disablist attitudes.Â As is the case with many other areas, in theory disabled women are said to have equal opportunities in the labour market.Â In practise the situation is often very different: for instance, a tenth of disabled women have incomes below ÂŁ31 per week compared with a tenth of disabled men, who have incomes below ÂŁ59 per week (DPAC, 2010b).Â Additionally, as Papworth trust (2011) reports the pay gap between disabled women and non-disabled men is large at 22 per cent.Â This is despite the Governmentâs attempts to âaddress the ongoing challenge of the gender pay âŚâ (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 162).
Women’s roles are often linked to their duties as homemakers; when a disabled woman is seen as unable to fulfil her home-related duties, society further devalues her (International Network of Women with Disabilities, 2012), including in the job market.Â Disabled women are perceived as belonging to the âcornerâ of the house and incapable of being economically productive: âJust because a woman is confined to a wheelchair, it is commonly assumed that she is best at work with her hands.â (Boylan, 1991: 31).Â This then affects the quality of disabled womenâs lives, being unable to have stimulating, satisfactory and independent life opportunities.
Disabled women, generally, receive an insufficient amount of vocational rehabilitation (this is noted by Boylan  to be a male-orientated service) after acquiring an impairment.Â As well as facing the possibility of exploitation by their employers, as the following case study in Sutherland (1981: 34) indicated disabled women are often denied adaptation and support to be able to have an equal access to employment as non-disabled people in general, and disabled men specifically.Â Maggie Woolley: âIf I was to marry a deaf man, he could get the hearing aid, he wanted free because of his work but my work isnât important enough, I find that really heavy discrimination.â
Reflecting this statement 30 years on, today at the same time as the Governmentâs claims to help disabled people back into work, the âAccess to Workâ funding scheme, which meets the costs to employers of any reasonable adjustments needed in a workplace, has been slashed (Bott, 2011).Â In general, 95 per cent of employers employ 20 or less people and thus are unlikely to pay for the many items that employers are expected to contribute to or pay the full cost of with the âAccess to Workâ cutbacks.Â The eligibility criteria for this benefit has been changing and tightening since 2010.Â In general, current reforms to unemployment benefits, and the delivery of the âWork Programmeâ, scrutinise disabled individualsâ motivation and attitude (Morris, 2012).
These reforms are imposed on disabled people, who are not assumed to be experts in their needs and barriers or in how to address either. Far from being in control over how to use resources, disabled people are told to do (including unpaid work for unlimited periods). (Morris, 2012: unpaged).
Employment rates vary greatly according to the type of impairment a person has (Office for National Statistics, 2009), and are particularly poor for those with learning disabilities (less than one in five) (Papworth trust, 2011).Â Only 15 per cent of people with Autism, and 35 per cent of those with mental health issues are in employment (DPAC, 2010b).Â Furthermore, as the following case study in Brown (1988: 36) indicated women with learning difficulties are marginalised to a deeper level in the working environment simply because of their difficulties in memorising and understanding: âOther employees were kind to me at first, but rapidly grew impatient as I constantly asked questions.Â I couldnât memorize the prices, despite studying the menu during breaks âŚâÂ This may even continue today, where people with learning difficulties have no choice other than to work in segregated workshops doing routine jobs.Â However, this would require further research.
Additionally, budget cuts are leading to public sector job losses; in Coventry alone, women are the majority of workers throughout the public sector (Stephenson & Harrison, 2011).Â This discussion explains why disabled womenâs careers choices are limited compared to non-disabled or even disabled men, and also why disabled women are often within the poorest group in society.Â The implications are that disabled women have to depend on state benefit and friend/family charity.Â Unfortunately, sometimes this means that they tolerate violent living conditions in order to ensure a minimum level of survival.Â Being economically disadvantaged means that disabled women are deprived of accessible and safe housing (particularly in the rural areas), suitable medical-care and are unable to provide fulfilling lifestyles for their children.Â Thus both at work and consequently in their disadvantaged lives, they may be exploited, marginalised, powerless and in extreme cases, subjected to violence (Naidu et al., 2005).
Create accessible employment opportunities for disabled women and provide appropriate support and adaptation. Â Introduce and expand specific programmes, policies, and facilities geared towards recruitment of disabled people.Â Â
Although the UK Government is said to be ambitious to âend violence against women and girls (VAWG)â (CEDAW report, 2011: Paragraph 251); the current work showed that the barriers encountered by disabled women in all the public areas discussed above were exacerbated by the interplay of their identities as âdisabledâ and âwomanâ.Â On the whole disablism and sexism coexist simultaneously.Â Whilst the intersectionality of âdisabilityâ and âgenderâ disadvantages disabled women double-fold in these key spheres, the disproportionate effects of the current public spending cuts will have further negative impact on their human rights.Â Restricting eligibility to âcareâ and closing the ILF, removing financial support for those who leave work because of a health condition or impairment, and removing financial support for disabled people seeking legal aid, infringes on fundamental articles in the CRPD (Bush, 2012).Â In addition to these, age, âclassâ, ethnicity, and sexuality similarly can increase or decrease disabled womenâs oppression in all the aspects explored here.Â As one such marginal group, disabled rural women, for example, are left out of most aspects of mainstream life by not having access to internet, which exacerbates their isolation.Â âFor women and girls with disabilities, it may actually be more difficult in a rural area to build up a network, keep up relationships and achieve status in the community.â (International Network of Women with Disabilities, 2012: unpaged).
Disabled LBT, Black Minority and Ethnic (BME), and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) women face multiple forms of discrimination when accessing community services and resources.Â There are specific problems related to each community concerning the practical access issues as well as the profile and relevance of Disabled Peopleâs Organisations (DPO) to LGBT, BME and GRT people (Hodgkins & Close, 2011).Â Moreover, non-disability community organisations are often unfamiliar with the barriers experienced by disabled people on a daily basis.Â As a result, certain communities of disabled women can become isolated and lead insular lives.
Admin. (2011) âDisabled women ask court to force council to think again over cutsâ Available at: http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2011/07/disabled-women-ask-court-to-force-council-to-think-again-over-cuts/ Accessed on: 09/01/2012.Admin2. (2012)
âDPAC ILF Letter updated with added signatures â please sign and shareâ Available at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/01/dpac-ilf-letter/ Accessed on: 25/02/2012.Bailey, R. (1996)
âPrenatal Testing and the prevention of Impairment: A Womanâs Right to Choose?â, in Morris, J. (ed.) Encounters with Strangers: Feminism and Disability.Â London: The Women’s Press.Bailey, R. (2012)
âNHS: Barriers to Equal Treatmentâ Disability Now, February 2012.Banks, J., Breeze, E., Lessof, C. and Nazroo, J. (eds.) (2006)
Retirement, health and relationships of the older population in England: The 2004 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (Wave 2).Â London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.Benefitsclaimantsfightback. (2012)
âDisabled activists and UK Uncut join to oppose âcruel and unnecessaryâ welfareÂ billââ Available at: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/disabled-activists-and-uk-uncut-join-to-oppose-cruel-and-unnecessary-welfare-bill-2/ Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Birch, I. (2011) âDisabled people are not workshy, lazy, scroungers or cheatsâ Available at: http://www.ianbirchwelfarebenefitsandworkblog.co.uk/2011/04/disabled-people-are-not-workshy-lazy.html Accessed on: 21/03/2012.Boffey, D. (2011)
âWelfare to Work policy âcasts the disabled as cheatsââ The Observer, 24th July 2011.
Bott, S. (2011) âSpeech to Independent Living Festivalâ (27th February 2011). DPAC. http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/02/sue-bott-on-independent-living/ Accessed on: 25/02/2012.Â Boylan, E. (1991)
Women and Disability. Â London: Zed Books.Briant, E., Watson, N. and Philo, G. (2011)
Bad News for Disabled People: How the Newspaper are Reporting Disability. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.Brown, D. (1988) âLearning to Workâ, in Saxton, M. and Howe, F. (eds.)
With Wings: An Anthology of Women with Disabilities.Â London: Virago.Bush, M. (2012)
âDouble think on disabled peopleâs rightsâ Disability Now, March 2012.Butler, P. (2011) âDo Cuts Kill?â Guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2011/nov/16/do-public-spending-cuts-kill. Accessed on: 25/02/2012.Â Carter, H. (2011)
âGemma Hayter murder: three of disabled woman’s ‘friends’ jailed for lifeâ The Guardian, 12th September 2011.CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women) report. (2011) United Kingdomâs Seventh Periodic Report. Available at: http://www.wrc.org.uk/includes/documents/cm_docs/2011/1110610_uk_seventh_cedaw_report.pdf Accessed on: 15/04/2012.Â
Collinson, C., Dunne, L. and Woolhouse, C. (2011), âRe-visioning Disability and Dyslexia Down the Camera Lens: interpretations of representations on UK university websites and in a UK government guidance paperâ. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 1, No. 15, pp. 1 – 15.
Commons Select Committee. (2011)
âMPs raise concerns about Legal Aid reformsâ Parliament.uk. Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/justice-committee/news/legal-aid-report-published/ Accessed on: 15/03/2012.Â CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). (2009)
âCrown Prosecution Service statement on James Wattsâ Available at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/press_statements/cps_statement_on_james_watts/ Accessed on: 09/01/2012.Degener, T. (1992) âSterile Without Consentâ, in Driedger, D. and Gray, S. (eds.)
Imprinting Our Image: An International Anthology By Women with Disabilities.Â Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Gynergy.DEMOS. (2010)
âDisabled People Hit by ÂŁ9bn Welfare Cutsâ Available at: http://www.demos.co.uk/press_releases/disabledpeoplehitbywelfarecuts Accessed on: 25/02/2012.Disability Alliance. (2011)
âCampaign for Better Transportâ Available at: http://www.disabilityalliance.org/bettertransport.htm Accessed on: 09/01/2012.Disability Alliance. (2012)
âAsk the Expertsâ Disability Now, February 2012.Disability Now. (2008) âNo Hiding Placeâ Available at: http://archive.disabilitynow.org.uk/search/z08_01_Ja/hatecrime.shtml Accessed on: 21/03/2012.Disability Now. (2012)
âWho Killed David Rathband?â An Interview with Colin Barnes. Disability Now, April 2012.Dodd, V. (2010)
âBudget cuts could break equality laws, Theresa May warned chancellorâ The Guardian, 3rd August 2010.Dolphin, H. (2012) âPIP assessment threat to mobilityâ Disability Now, April 2012.
DPAC. (2010a) âDisabled People Against Cuts on todayâs protestsâ Available at: http://www.disabled-world.com/news/uk/fighting-back.php#ixzz19LVQRNp3 Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
DPAC. (2010b) âDisabled people feel their lives are under threatâ Available at: www.l-r-c.org.uk/files/DPAC_cuts1.pdf Accessed on: 15/02/2012.
DPAC Project. (2010) âDear Mr. MP: write to your MP for EDM 706â Available at: http://disabledpeopleprotest.wordpress.com/tag/uncrpd/ Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). (2008a) Fair Treatment at Work Survey, 2008.DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). (2008b) Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2008.
Â DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). (2011) Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2011.
EA âEquality Actâ. (2006) Legislation.gov.uk. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/3/contents Accessed on: 15/04/2012.
EA âThe Equality Actâ. (2010) The Department for Education.Â London: HMSO.Â Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents Accessed on: 12/05/2011.
Essex Coalition of Disabled People. (2010) âChanges to DLA and ILF: An ECDP survey on disabled peopleâs viewâ Available at: http://www.ecdp.org.uk/storage/ECDP%20DLA%20and%20ILF%20survey%20results%20and%20analysis%20–%20FINAL%20July%202010.doc Accessed on: 25/02/2012.
Farrar, V. (2007) âA Bridge Too Far?Â The issues for deaf students in research educationâ, in Barnes, L., Harrington, F., Williams, J. and Atherton, M. (eds.) Deaf Students in Higher Education: Current research and practice.Â Gloucestershire: Douglas McLean.
Firman, E. (2012) Rural Disabled Women Politics and Decision-Making.Â Received from the author.
Glenelg, I. (2012) âComment is Free readers onâŚ negative attitudes towards disabilityâ Guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/08/disabled-people-abuse-peoples-panel Accessed on: 25/02/2012.
Goodley, D. A. and Roets, G. (2008) âThe (be)comings and goings of developmental disabilities: The cultural politics of ‘impairmentâ Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 239 – 255.
Government Equalities Office and Equality and Diversity Forum. (2010) âEquality Act 2010: What do I need to know?Â Disability quick start guideâÂ Available at: http://www.equalities.gov.uk/pdf/401727_EDF_Disability_acc.pdf Accessed on: 27/06/2011.
Grewal, I., Joy, S., Lewis, J., Swales, K. and Woodfield, K. (2002) âDisabled for Life: attitudes towards, and experiences of, disability in Britainâ DWP Research Report, No. 173.Â Available at: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/173summ.asp Accessed on: 09/01/2012.
Harris, S. (2012) âA happy International Womenâs Day surprise: Government commits to signing Istanbul Convention on violence against womenâ Available at: http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2012/03/a-happy-international-womens-day-surprise-government-commits-to-signing-istanbul-convention-on-violence-against-women/ Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Hodgkins, S. and Close, M. (2011) âLancashireâs Hidden Stories Experience of disability among Gypsy, Roma and Travellers, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Black and Minority Ethnic communitiesâ Hidden Stories: Disability LIB for Disability Equality (report summary). October 2011.
Howard, R. and Handy, S. (2004) âThe Sterilisation of Women with Learning Disabilities â Some Points for Considerationâ The British Journal of Developmental Disabilities, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 133 – 141.Inclusion London. (2011) âDonât cut access to justiceâ InclusionLondon.co.uk. Available at: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/dont-cut-access-to-justice, Accessed on: 15/04/2012.
International Network of Women with Disabilities. (2012)Â A presentation on rural women and girls with disabilities at a side event at the Commission on the Status of Women on February 28th, 2012.Â Available at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/csw/csw56_myra.doc Accessed on: 09/03/2012.
JCHR (Joint Committee on Human Rights). (2012) âRights of disabled people may be at risk, says Human Rights Committeeâ Available at: http://just-fair.co.uk/hub/single/rights_of_disabled_people_may_be_at_risk_says_human_rights_committee/ Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Jolly, D. (2011) âScapegoats, Sinners and Political Strategies: the media and disability cuts -Debbie Jollyâ Available at: Â http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/12/scapegoats-sinners-and-political-strategies-the-media-and-disability-cuts-debbie-jolly/ Accessed on: 25/02/2012.
Jolly, D., Priestley, M. and Matthews, B. (2006) âSecondary Analysis of Existing Data on Disabled Peopleâs Use and Experiences of Public Transport in Great Britainâ A research report for the Disability Rights Commission.Â www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/
Kent, D. (1987) âDisabled Women: Portraits in Fiction and Dramaâ, in Gartner, A. and Joe, T. (eds.) Images of the Disabled, Disabling Images.Â London: Praeger.
Keogh, M. (2012) âInternational Womenâs Day: Women with disabilities a dichotomy in protectionâ Disability and Human Rights. http://disabilityandhumanrights.com/2012/03/08/international-women%E2%80%99s-day-women-with-disabilities-a-dichotomy-in-protection/ Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Levy, E. (2012) âThe Challenge for Disabled Victims of Domestic Violenceâ Disaboom.com.http://www.disaboom.com/disability-rights-and-advocacy-general/the-challenge-for-disabled-victims-of-domestic-violence. Accessed on: 25/02/2012.Liddiard, K. (2012) âSex: Some Facts of Lifeâ Disability Now, April 2012.
Lonsdale, S. (1990) Women and Disability: the experience of physical disability among women.Â Macmillan Educational.
Marsh, S. (2011)âWelfare Reform Bill: Key issues for disabled and sick peopleâ Available at: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16050 Accessed on: 25/02/2012.McVeigh, K. (2011)
âMotherâs legal plea to sterilize her daughter remains unsolvedâ The Guardian, 15th February 2011.
Morris, J. (2011) âRethinking Disability Policyâ Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available at: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/rethinking-disability-policy Accessed on: 15/03/2012.Morris, J. (2012)
âFulfilling Potential or Potential Unfulfilled?â Available at: http://jennymorrisnet.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/fulfilling-potential-or-potential.html Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Naidu, E., Haffejee, S., Vetten, L. and Hargreaves, S. (2005) âOn the Margins: Violence Against Women with Disabilitiesâ Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.www.csvr.org.za/docs/gender/onthemargins.pdf Accessed on: 21/03/2012. Office for National Statistics. (2009)
Labour Force Survey, Jan – March 2009.Office for National Statistics. (2011) Interim findings from the Life Opportunities Survey.
Orr, D. (2011) âWelcome reform may see families lose homesâ Guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/dec/14/welfare-reform-families-lose-homesÂ Accessed on: 25/02/2012.
Ortoleva,S. (2011) âInaccessible Justice: Human Rights, Persons with Disabilities and the Legal Systemâ ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 281 – 320.
Papworth Trust. (2011) âDisability in the United Kingdom 2011: Facts and Figuresâ Available at: http://www.factsandfigures_disabilityintheuk_july2011_110721132605.pdf
Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Peck, S. (2012) âCuts threat to public transportâ Disability Now, February 2012.
Radnage, A. (2011) âMarried couple driven to commit suicide by utter povertyâ Metro. http://www.metro.co.uk/news/881136-married-couple-driven-to-commit-suicide-by-utter-poverty Accessed on: 25/02/2012.
Ramesh, R. (2010) âMortgage aid cut âwill see people lose homesââ The Guardian, 9th August 2010.
Ramesh, R. (2012) âHousing benefit cuts will put 800,000 homes out of reach, according to studyâ The Guardian, 1st January 2012.
Scarlet, M. (2012) âShooting Beautyâ Disability Now, April 2012.
Sen, G., Ostlin, P. and George, A. (2007) âUnequal, Unfair, Ineffective and Inefficient. Gender Inequality in Health: Why it exists and how we can change itâ Final Report to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, September 2007.Â Available at: http://www.who.int/social_determinants/…/wgekn_final_report_07.pdf Â Similar Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
Shadow Report: Older Womenâs Rights in the United Kingdom. (2011) Shadow report submitted to the 56th session of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in relation to the United Kingdomâs seventh periodic report of States Parties submitted in June 2011. (first draft, unpublished).
Soorenian, A. (2008) âThe Significance of Studying Disabled International Students: Experiences in English universitiesâ, in Campbell, T., Fontes, F., Hemingway, L., Soorenian, A. and Till, C. (eds.) Disability Studies: Emerging Insights and Perspectives.Â Leeds: The Disability Press.Stephenson, M. and Harrison, J. (2011)
âUnravelling Equality: A Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessment of the Spending Cuts on Women in Coventryâ A Joint Report of the Centre for Human Rights in Practice, University of Warwick and Coventry Womenâs Voices.Â Available at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/chrp/projectss/humanrightsimpactassessments/cwv/ Accessed on: 25/02/2012.
Sturcke, J. (2010)âPolice under investigation over Fiona Pilkington caseâ The Guardian, 16th March 2010.
Sutherland, A. T. (1981) Disabled We Stand.Â London: Souvenir Press.
Thiria, R., Hague, G. and Mullender, A. (2011)âLosing out on both counts: disabled women and domestic violenceâ Disability & Society, Vol. 26, No. 6, pp. 757 – 771.
UK Disabled Peopleâs Council & European Disability Forum. (2012) âWhy is The Undateables Unwatchable?â The Representative Organization of persons with Disabilities in Europe. Available at: http://www.edf-feph.org/Page_Generale.asp?DocID=13855&thebloc=29719 Accessed on: 15/03/2012.
UK Joint Committee on Women. (2011) Available at: http://www.engender.org.uk/UserFiles/File/news/UPR%20report%20from%20UK%20Joint%20Committee%20on%20Women%202011%20Final.doc Accessed on: 26/04/2012.
Willitts, P. (2010) âBudget Impact on Disabled Womenâ Available at: http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2010/07/budget_impact_o Accessed on: 08/01/2012.Wood, C. and Grant, E. (2010) âReply: Letter: Incapacity Test is not Fit for Purposeâ The Guardian, 20th October 2010.
Wood, C., Cheetham, P. and Gregory, T. (2011) âCoping with the Cutsâ DEMOS. http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/copingwiththecuts Accessed on: 21/03/2012.
CEDAW shadow report section on Disabled Women (Word Doc of section on Disabled Women for CEDAW shadow report) 147kb
We are grateful to The Limping Chicken for allowing us to repost this great interview with one of our own Sisters of Frida
Maria Zedda is Managing Director of Wideaware Training.Â She has worked in the Disability field for 17 years, running community based projects for disabled people, visually impaired people and people with learning disabilities. She is currently Vice-Chair of the London 2012 Disability Communities Engagement Group, is a qualified Access Auditor and is on the Board of Trustees of several large organisations. A speech she made at The Guardian in 2010 was described by deputy editor Ian Katz as âthe best speech Iâve ever heard at any internal conference for the paper.âÂ
Were you born deaf?
I was born hearing, to hearing parents, but no-one is really sure how I lost my hearing. Doctors told my mother it could have been a childhood illness or the severe jaundice I had when I was a few weeks old.
Iâm about 90% deaf in my right ear and about 75% deaf in my left ear. My hearing loss affects the higher frequencies, so canât hear screeching guitars or high flutes, but will enjoy a thumping bass sound!
In speech I cannot hear consonants, only vowels so I rely on lip-reading to make sense of what people say. I wear a hearing aid on my left ear, but none on the right one as I find it confusing.
What was school and education like?
I grew up in Italy. The second year at elementary school in Sardinia was horrendous, I could not hear the teacher reading aloud the stories we were meant to write, and ended up writing my own, which she thought was a deliberate act of defiance (I was 7 years old!). Then when they diagnosed me with hearing loss she refused to have me in the class, claiming that I needed special education.
My parents decided to move to another village so I could join a class with a teacher who was a distant relative. She sat me at the front and made sure I could see her face and I did not have any problems. I was with her for another 3 years.
Secondary school and college were another matter. I became fed up of asking the teachers to make sure I could see them â they kept walking up and down and faced the blackboard all the time. So I did not do as well as I should have but I still got a few B+ grades in my A levels.
I moved to the UK in 1990, then after working at the BBCâs Disability Programmes Unit, became a student at the age of 25. I was a bit older and had received very good disability âconfidenceâ training, so I was more able to get what I wanted from the lecturers. I had no problems getting up to keep asking them to face the audience and eventually they got the message!
How did you first set up your own company?
I had a long career in disability in the UK, Italy and the USA. Then I found myself with a 1yr old baby and another on the way and I thought âIâm a mum, Iâm deaf, no way anyone is going to give me a jobâ. So in 2006 I set up Wideaware as Iâve always wanted to deliver disability training and Iâm really passionate about it.
My husband had been trying to talk me into it for months, then the motivation increased when I started to look for business advice and financial support from banks, as they were not deaf-aware â or customer-aware for that matter.
How has Wideaware progressed?
I think we have progressed really well. My husband left his e-learning developer job to join me full time. I was the only Disabled Entrepreneur to win a UnLtd Award for three years consecutively, a Changing Places Award in 2008 and win the national Ready To Start Disabled Entrepreneur of the UK Award in 2009.
We are now providing e-learning on disability and inclusion to major organisations, including the ODI (Office of Disability Issues), Westfield Stratford City, Ofcom, ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies), the borough of Southwark, The British Library, and many others. All our work is bespoke and we pride ourselves in the exceptional quality of the training â if people just want to cover the basics with us they can â but we encourage them to do more.
Whatâs the most satisfying aspect of your work with Wideaware?
Delivering training and the effect it has on people and when they tell me how the training has really helped them understand the issues. Many also start to realise the business case for being inclusive and thatâs great â if not for equal rights be inclusive for money!!!
You recently worked with LOCOG setting up access for the Olympics. What was that like?
That was an interesting experience â I was very enthusiastic about what the London 2012 Games could bring to disabled people in the UK, help them achieve âthe most inclusive Games everâ.
The disability groups and myself as Vice-Chair worked very hard on many issues on a voluntary basis and we tried to be as helpful as possible. But ultimately the final decision-making rests with LOCOG so I realized that there was a limit to what we could do.
Whatâs your view on how the cuts are affecting disabled and deaf people and how we are currently portrayed in the media?
I consider myself to have a disability and I feel strong solidarity with disabled people who rely on benefits, because Iâm very aware what theyâre going through could happen to anyone. The abuse and the hatred they are experiencing is horrendous and exacerbated by the latest governmentâs proposals.
I identify myself as disabled because I am â and also to help awareness as to who we are, not these âdisabled scroungersâ as portrayed by too much media out there. Disabled and deaf people contribute greatly to society and itâs their human right to expect to co-exist equally to everyone else and receive financial support enabling them to be equal.
What Iâm witnessing at the moment makes me feel ashamed of the UKâs government but very proud to see how disabled people are organizing and fighting against this injustice.
As a mother of two how do you juggle home and work?
I donât juggle it at all, we just scrape by! I share the workload â both professionally and at home with my husband and we try to cope the best we can. In the past some of the awards money I received was used for childcare â so that helped a lot especially as childcare is far too expensive in the UK and when you have more than one child the cost is truly prohibitive.
At times weâve enlisted the help of our family but at the moment we are focusing on working while the children are at school and after theyâve gone to bed â not easy but it canât be helped!
Youâve just moved from London to Edinburgh. Whatâs the difference?
The difference for me has been the improvement of the quality of life for my family â Edinburgh is much more child-friendly than south London and my childrenâs current school is fantastic. In Edinburgh there is a lot to do and many places to explore and most venues are accessible for free.
We also moved to be closer to my husbandâs family and being able to see them much more often has been great. I do go to London all the time, however, on business, so I do get my London-fix often, I still love it but as an individual, not so much as a mum!
Whatâs up next for you?
Next for me is to make sure that Wideaware, my company, is healthy and strong to plough on through these very tough economic times. We need to have our work secured for the months ahead, then Iâll be looking forward to a holiday in Sardinia â where Iâm originally from â so that the family and I can enjoy the sun, the sea, the food and see our relativesâŚIâve not been back for three years and I really miss it!
Thank you Maria. One last thing â could you think of a random question to ask the next person to be interviewed on The Limping Chicken?
Ok! Here it is. Being part of the Deaf world or the hearing world: why do you think people are so keen to separate the two?
Interview by Charlie Swinbourne (Editor)
reposted from http://limpingchicken.com/2012/02/24/meet-maria-zedda/
The first by Mary Keogh in Disability and Human Rights – International Womenâs Day: Women with disabilities a dichotomy in protection.
Women with disabilities often remain invisible in mainstream laws and policies for women. A contributing factor to this invisibility is a general lack of data disaggregated from a gender and disability perspective. In addition, research concerning the issues faced by women with disability is still in its early stages, leaving women and girls with disabilities invisible citizens in mainstream policy, often not considered in the mainstream disability movement and well as the womenâs movement. Even within the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a mainstream womenâs movement, women with disabilities are notably absent. While CEDAW has obligations for achieving equality between men and women, the prohibitions on discrimination against women do not explicitly make reference to women with disabilities. Yet, women with disabilities are the largest minority among the female population and disability is a category that crosses all other categories including gender, race, age, orientation, and religion.
Some progress has been made to increase the level of visibility on women with disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), which has been ratified in a number of nations worldwide, includes an article specifically addressing the rights of women with disabilities (Article 6). This article recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and asks States to ensure that women and girls with disabilities are given the opportunities to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms. Article 8 also addresses matters pertaining to the rights and protections of women with disabilities, and addresses awareness raising to combat sex-based stereotypes, prejudices, and harmful. Article 16, while addressing freedom from violence, exploitation, and abuse includes several provisions on gender issues.
Laws and policies are just one piece of the puzzle that will lead to the promotion of equal opportunities for women with disabilities. The development of education and awareness programs can also help to challenge the stigma faced by women with disabilities. On this celebratory day, States that have signed and ratified the CRPD must ensure that they are working to implement its specific provisions in order to achieve progress for women with disabilities. Equally States that have signed and ratified CEDAW must consider the rights of women with disabilities.
(Read the complete article at Mary Keogh’s blog.)
We are happy to say that Sisters of Frida have been working with the UK CEDAW working group to add disabled women in the next CEDAW shadow report.
But Mary Keogh is right. In the next blog,Â A happy International Womenâs Day surprise: Government commits to signing Istanbul Convention on violence against women,Â Scarlet Harris writes:
I got a nice International Womenâs Day surprise when I woke thisÂ morningÂ to the news that Nick Clegg had announced in a speech in the Hague last night that:
âOn the eve of International Womenâs Day, Iâd like to express the UKâs support for the principles in the Council of Europeâs Convention on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. A landmark agreement aimed at lifting the standards of protection for women across Europe. We are getting ourselves in a position to sign later this yearâ
I will however point out that this commitment is all the more important given the context of cuts to womenâs VAWG services, cuts to legal aid, and cuts to various housing and social benefits that offer a lifeline to many women living in refuges and rebuilding their lives after escaping a violent relationship.
Sylvia Walbyâs excellent report on the impact of the cuts on VAWG services makes for sobering reading. It reports that 230 women were turned away by Womenâs Aid on a typical day in 2011 due to lack of space, that specialist BME services are being forced to close, the number of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVA) has been reduced, and that statutory provision, including those police and court services that involve specialised expertise, has also faced cuts.
The interim findings of Vera Baird QCâs Commission into how cuts are impacting on womenâs safety were published yesterday and paint a gloomy picture of street lights being turned out, police numbers cut, refuges closing their doors, transport staff cut, legal aid cuts, housing and social benefits cut, and women fleeing domestic violence being advised to sleep on park benches or to seek a bed in A&E.
Neither of these reports really mention disabled women in much detail. We should ask the question why? As Mary Keogh points out- women with disabilities are the largest minority among the female population and disability is a category that crosses all other categories including gender, race, age, orientation, and religion.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Solidarity to sisters in India!
Mumbai: Women with disabilities are in no mood to celebrate International Women’s Day on Thursday but will instead protest a day earlier in wheelchairs to assert the denial of their rights.
Joining more than 100 women in wheelchairs on the eve of Women’s Day will be hundreds of their supporters who will also sit in wheelchairs to express solidarity for disabled women in India.
Brought together by the ADAPT Rights Group, a group of young able and disabled activists, they hope to force Mumbaikars to think: how long will women with disabilities face apartheid-like discrimination?
….Yet, even after 16 years of enforcement of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, the country is not very sensitive towards the rights ofÂ disabled.
No disabled woman is in Parliament, even in Rajya Sabha, they are not even part of the women’s rights movement across the country, they rarely get married and are denied the right to motherhood.
Nearly half of the 40 to 90 million people with disabilities in India are women and yet they have always remained an invisible minority.
Read the full article at Gulf News
Some of us went to the Million Women Rise march in London this year under the Sisters of Frida’s banner.
The Million Women Rise (MWR) Coalition is a diverse group of individual women and women representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector who are united by our outrage at the continued daily, hourly, minute-by-minute individual and institutionalised male violence enacted against women worldwide. We believe that every woman and child has a right to live free from violence and that ongoing violence devastates not only the lives of the individuals directly affected but also the communities of which they are part. We have come together to organise a national demonstration against violence against women.
We joined loads of other wonderful women, chanting, shouting, singing, drumming, feeling empowered together. We marched down to Trafalgar Sq – the theme this year was focused on the girl child and we were honoured by 13 year old Mary Jane being with us.
We also met Pauline, a friend who was also at the 2010 MWR march where Eleanor and Michelle spoke at Trafalgar Sq.
Eleanor and Michelle speaking at MWR 2010, things have not improved much for disabled women under this coalition government with their cuts which affect disabled and women. (transcript below*)
Happy International women’s day, sisters on 8th March this year!
*Breaking the silence of Disabled Women
Fiona Pilkington caught the headlines when she killed herself and her disabled daughter by setting fire to their car â she had been unable to get help against constant abuse and intimidation from local youths but there are many, many disabled women who are abused, violated and within their own homes. We want you to hear some of those voices from a recent report on Disabled women and domestic violence.
âOh yes, he would drag me along the floor because I couldnât walk or get away that was how it would start, the way it always went. Heâd insult me with all those names, âyou spassyâ and so on, âwhoâd want to marry you?â
And he smashed me against the wall, shouting insults, you cripple, all that sort of thing.â
âBecause I canât feed myself and he would go out in the evenings deliberately and I wouldnât have eaten anything for a twenty-four hour period or more. So that wouldnât have happened to anybody that could feed themselves.â
In the evenings Iâd be exhausted. And being deaf is hard work you know, you have to concentrate so much harder and itâs tiring. And heâd be furious and slap me and kick me awake. And he used to like: âDonât you fall asleep on me, I want a wife, a real wife not an old womanâ. And you know it was sex all the time, twice a day and he would shout at me and then hold me down and I hated it, I hated it.â
You know refuge provision is scarce, and accessible refuge provision is almost non existent and many women believed they could not be accommodated according to their needs.
Disabled women are also more vulnerable to sexual assaults in places such as care homes and by their carers. James Watts, sexually assaulted four disabled women at the care home where he worked as a mini bus driver. He was found guilty after one of his victims testified by blinking yes or no to questions from the police.
Disabled women continue (even as we speak) to experience physical, mental and sexual abuse. The sad reality is, our voices continue to go unheard by those key services that are set up to assist and support women in vulnerable positions.
Sisters, in order for you to really appreciate the seriousness of our situations experienced by disabled women you must recognise and understand the barriers we experience which can worsen the problems.
For this reason it can be difficult for us to report our abuser or even challenge them especially if we are dependent on them for support. What worries us is that many disabled women are forced to continue to experience brutality and suffering from their abuser. This is a sad and worrying reality!
Also, we must not forget about the experiences of disabled women with multiple identities. For many of us we continue to experience multiple discrimination from within the disability movement, other women, community and society.
Being here today for both of us (Eleanor and myself) is about raising the voices of our disabled sisters. It is also about ensuring our recognition within this struggle for human rights. We close by saying that we all have a responsibility to ensure disabled women are recognised and respected as equals within this struggle for all of our voices to be heard â âwe are women too!â.