SOF CRPD Shadow Report : UK Initial Report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Disabled peopleâs organisations (DPOs) have come together to tell a UN committee the different ways in which the UK government has been breaching the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). See Disability News Service ‘s article DPOs join forces to brief UN on how UK has breached disability conventionÂ
Sisters of Frida wrote a short shadow report on 3 Articles with List of Issues. We also contributed to the ROFA shadow report.
SoF CRPD Shadow report with List of Issues
SoF CRPD Shadow report with List of Issues
SOF CRPD_Shadow Report (WORD doc)
At the European Parliament: Domestic violence against people with disability
Sisters of Frida was asked to speak at an event hosted by Soraya Post MEP on Domestic violence against disabled people by the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) on the 31st January 2017. Here is the speech from Eleanor Lisney ( a summarised version was given as the meeting ran out of time)
Having support for independent living is one of the fundamental needs of disabled people and the structural barriers of being able to exercise our rights is in our battles with social services, schools, higher education, housing, stigmas and discrimination and ableism.
Embla and Freyja were giving their testimonies on behalf ofÂ the next day on domestic violence against disabled people. Here is their speech for TabĂș.
It is clear that a new definition of domestic violence in itself will not solve the social situation of disabled women and end domestic violence against us. That does not change the fact that by redefining domestic violence legally and in policy can change, for the better, the practices of the police, legal system, social services and violence support networks. Changing the definition does not have to shadow the gender-based approach, it should enrich it. This should not have to exclude tackling of other forms of violence, e.g. institutional violence and hate crime. More so it could draw upon the multiple and concurrent forms of violence that should be beneficial to disabled women and service systems. It could deepen the understanding of which kind of violence affects or actuate other kinds of violence as well as offering a better ground to analyse how structures and cultures encourage and minimize abuse in the lives of disabled women.”
We also met up with all four of the Disabled Survivors Unite co-founders from the UK – Alice Kirkby, Ashley Stephens, Holly Scott-Gardner andÂ Bekki Smiddy. Here is their blog of the day with a audio recording and transcript. There was much appreciation of their testimonies.
John Pring of Disability News Service wrote the articleÂ ‘Cuts mean government âis complicit in high levels of domestic violenceâ on their appearance.
Ana PelĂĄez, the Chair of the European Disability Forum (EDF) Womenâs Committee and a member of its Executive Committee spoke on the structual problems faced by disabled women and girls
So the first thing we need to say is that violence against women and girls with disabilities is structural violence that arises from the mere fact that when we talk about their specific situation they are not recognised as women or girls. This non-recognition means they are excluded from policies aimed at providing assistance and recovery for women victims of violence. (Another related topic is the accessibility of these services, but today we donât have time to go into this.)
A second structural aspect of violence against women and girls with disabilities is that in many cases they are victims of legal incapacitation which takes place due to their gender. This incapacitation is part of the process to enable these women to be subjected to forced sterilisation without their consent, or without their realising what is being done to them. This practise is another type of domestic violence in some ways, because it is the families who, in violation of the CRPD and even article 39 of the Istanbul Convention, choose to sterilise their daughters to protect them against unwanted pregnancies. I donât mean to blame the families; they are also victims of the healthcare system, which very often suggests this type of practise. Sterilising a woman means mutilating not only her reproductive capacity, but also her civil, political and economic rights. In addition, the only thing sterilisation achieves is to leave girls and women with disabilities even more exposed to sexual abuse and rape. Even worse, they are also unable to access justice to report the perpetrators or seek remedies, because they have been deprived of their legal capacity.
Here is the Ana PelĂĄez EPÂ (Word doc) speech in full that she kindly send us.
It was wonderful to meet Madelen LĂ¶w from We Rise Again (Sweden) who spoke her powerful testimony
People who were involved with the event spoke of their willingness to have further collaboration on the topic – we hope so! We will continue to follow the discussions. There was much mention of the Istanbul Convention that we hope will be ratified soon by the UK.
More photos from the event at Flickr account
Cold, chaotic and claustrophobic at times – but we were there at the Women’s March last Saturday!
We sent out this press release on the day of the march
âSisters of Frida are joining the Womenâs March in solidarity with all those marginalised and threatened by the politics of hatred and division. Amongst the many statements that triggered women to march was the mocking of Serge Kovaleski, Pulitzer prize winning reporter for the New York Times, who is disabled.
âWhilst the march was not accessible for all disabled women, Sisters of Frida have been working with the Women’s Equality Party to ensure that disabled women are represented and access improved. Both the Women’s Equality Party and Sisters of Frida will be live streaming and tweeting from the Womenâs March on London to open up this space to those unable to join us today.
âThis is a powerful example of how a movement can amplify the voices of those who are often most marginalised. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience abuse compared to non-disabled women, and we are still fighting for the right to independent living. Disability hate crime is underreported and can go unrecognised.
âDisabled women too often face barriers to fully participating in politics. Today we are demanding that space. We know that disability can intersect with other marginalised identities – including race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. Today we march for a politics that includes all women. Tomorrow we will continue our work to amplify the voices of those women who are too often unheard.â
We had all intentions of meeting up and marching together with the Womens Equality Party but some of us were not well enough given the cold weather, impairment issues and sheer numbers of the people who turned up. It was very difficult to get together even if we manage to get in contact with our mobile phones. Negotiating through the crowds proved very difficult for many even those without a mobility impairment.
Reports of as many as 100 000 women were said to be there at the march and there was a feeling of being united together. There were some questions on the lack of intersectionality on the march and we were disappointed about the absence of theÂ disabled women voices.
We thank the Women’s Equality Party for their support.
We were also joined by Liz Carr and Jo Church on the March. A few people send us messages of solidarity to say they could not come but to thank for representing them as disabled people/women.
More photos can be found at the Sisters of Frida’s Flickr account.
At Youth Action Festival: our rights as women and girls
Sisters of Frida was invited to give a workshop at the Plan UK #Standupforgirls Youth Action Fest last Saturday following the success of last year’s event. We were lucky that Fleur Perry agreed to help us run a workshop on Inclusive Campaigning.
Eleanor and Fleur had about 10 participants – we discussed access and showed a couple of videos and quite a few discussions. Participants were incensed to hear of Fleur’s difficulties to get to the event because her issues with wheelchair spaces on the train. We discussed disability itself and what it is – it was good to hear their perceptions and solutions towards more awareness. It was clear that they enjoyed Fleurs’s delivery and that she enjoyed it too.
Photos from the Disabled Women’s Voices
Here are some of them. Videos coming soon.
Many thanks to Rosa UK for enabling this event
#disabledwomenvoice and a statement on post Brexit
While we had our event Disabled Women Voices from the Frontline event today at Blackfriars Settlement, we found out that there was another meeting in Conway Hall –Â BREXIT, Racism and XenophobiaÂ Â to discuss the impact of the referendum vote on BAME communities across the UK organised by The Monitoring Group –Â some of us would have liked to be there.
We prepared our own response with a message and we had a panel discussion on the Brexit impact on disabled women which was passionate and we came to a conclusion of continuing the discussion.
Here is the message
We would like to send a message of solidarity to this meeting as we are holding our own event at Blackfriars Settlement Disabled Women Voices from the Frontline.
Sisters of Frida (SOF) is a disabled women’s collective. We are a collective for allÂ self-identified disabled women, and we are committed to an intersectional perspective on our day to day realities.
Sisters of Frida condemns the increase in racist attacks after the Referendum and is concerned how these attacks and Brexit affect disabled women, Â particularly disabled women of colour.
We are concerned about how dis/ableism, sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia affect disabled women. As part of the disabled community, we have seen a rise in disability hate crime in recent years too.
Sisters of Frida is worried how disabled women of colour and European migrants have become pawns in the current political situation and are facing multiple discrimination and exclusion.
We are concerned about how Brexit and the conversations after Brexit are scapegoating thoseÂ reliant on the NHS and other health related and welfare support and benefits.
We are also concerned how disabled people are portrayed and treated. As Sisters of Frida, we are particularly concerned about how Brexit affects disabled women in the UK who are EU nationals. We are disquiet how this affects British and non-EU migrant disabled people in the UK, particularly those of people of colour, Muslim, LGBT and European communities. We are also worried by the impact on disabled people who rely on migrant workers to support their independent livingand how Brexit would exacerbate austerity cuts.
We hope your meeting will be fruitful. Let us unite in working together in moving forward towards a fair and just society, with an inclusive, supportive and safe environment in the future.
Unity is strength!
Some of the photos from today’s event Â – more photos and video to come later.
Women representatives on the new CRPD Committee – where are they?
posted to Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (UK), UN Enable, UN Women, International Disability Alliance,
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
23 rd June 2016
Dear Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (UK) and other concerned parties,
We write as the only collective of women with disabilities in the UK to express our serious disappointment that the new composition of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is specifically a convention on and for disabled people, will have only one woman representative.
We are joined by our deep disappointment and concern by the International Network of Women with Disabilities (INWWD), European Network of Independent Living (ENIL), Women with Disabilities India Network, Pukenga Consultancy (NZ), Advocacy for Inclusion (Australia) and Women Enabled International in this letter.
Indeed, the CRPD Committee now stands as the treaty body with the fewest number of women members â one woman (out of 18 members) in 2017– a significant departure from its previous compositions of six women (out of 18 members) in 2014-2016; seven women (out of 18 members) in 2012-2014; eight women (out of eighteen members) in 2010-2012; and five women (out of 12 members) in 2008-2010.
Yet, article 34(4) of the CRPD sets out the requirement that States Parties elect members of the Committee with consideration being given to: equitable geographical distribution, representation of different legal systems, balanced gender representation and participation of experts with disabilities. This requirement for gender parity has clearly not been met. This failure to adhere to its own Convention seriously undermines the credibility of the new Committee.
In March, members of Sisters of Frida, the INWWD, and Women Enabled International participated at the UN CSW 60 at which themes under discussion and review included the empowerment of women and the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. There was a marked paucity of events covering disabled women although several side-events were held by and with disabled women expressing the issues forcibly and clearly.
Disabled women are among the most disadvantaged in the world, despite being the single largest minority of women, and this failure to attend to the issues facing disabled women cannot help in the fight against barriers imposed not just by the built environment and lack of accessibility to services, employment and education but also by social barriers: stigmatization, ostracization and the easy targeting of those who are particularly susceptible to discrimination, including the fact we are female. How will these concerns be heard and represented? The CRPD recognizes the intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls in Article 6; we need women representatives in the committee in order to ensure the Committee engages and addresses this issue.
What will you do to redress this lack of gender equality so that it will not be the case for the next election? What is the work to be done to ensure the inclusion of women across all the conventions, and agreements to which the UK Government is party? This absence of women in decision-making is likely to lead to leaving many behind in the face of the cry underpinning the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5, that no-one should be left Â behind.
How can we be of assistance?
We look forward to your reply,
Sisters of Frida
Other signatories include
Myra Kovary (Moderator, International Network of Women with Disabilities)
Jamie Bolling (CEO, European Network on Independent Living)
Prof. (Dr) Asha Hans (Women with Disabilities India Network)
Dr Huhanna Hickey (Pukenga Consultancy, NZ)
Christina Ryan (CEO, Advocacy for Inclusion, Australia)
Stephanie Ortoleva Esq (Founding President & Legal Director, Women Enabled International)
Submission to the UN Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
We were told about the possibility to add a submission to the UN CESCRÂ Committee which is reviewing the UK at their next session in JuneÂ by the International Disability Alliance.
Armineh Soorenian with Eleanor Lisney with some help from others for references came together with this Submission to CESCR Committee.Sisters of Frida.UK. ENIL also published it under the headingÂ Rights of UK Disabled Women in Spotlight
Sisters of Frida (SoF), a disabled womenâs collective based in the UK, highlighted a number of developments that have negatively impacted on disabled people, in their submission to the UN Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The input provided will feed into ongoing review of the UK by the Committee.
The submission has identified a number of restrictions disabled people face with respect to their economic and social rights (as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), particularly the impact of austerity measures on their rights enjoyment and exercise.
Among other, SoF has expressed concerns about increasing institutionalisation of disabled people, as a result of the lack of adequate housing strategies. It also warned that the cuts to Access to Work and the Employment Support Allowance have led to further marginalisation of disabled people.
Finally, the submission focuses on Article 10 of the ICESCR â on the protection of family, mothers and children. It sets out barriers faced by disabled women and of those, disabled women from black and ethnic minorities (BME), calling for an amendment to the Serious Crime Act 2015.
See also the article in Disability News Service.
The number and quality of the recommendations made throughout the document was remarked on because ‘it is not a common practice for the committee to address the rights of disabled people in particular women, so comprehensively – re disproportionate impact of austerity measures, social protection, poverty, violence, employment, housing’ etc.
It emphasised problems withÂ welfare reform, saying it was âdeeply concernedâ about âthe various changes in the entitlements to, and cuts in, social benefitsâ,Â including the reduction of the household benefit cap, the four-year freeze on certain benefits and the reduction in child tax credits. It added that these changes adversely affect âwomen, children, persons with disabilities, low-income families and families with two or more childrenâ.
And it called for more information in the UKâs next report to the committee on the impact of its national strategy on gender-based violence, particularly on disabled women and girls.
See John Pring’s article in Disability News Service UN report raises âdeep concernsâ about impact of austerity on disabled people
Read also UK Human Rights Blog on the report
Inclusion for all – BAMER disabled person’s perspective
On 27 September 2012, Eleanor Lisney (and Michelle Daley) gave a presentation on BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee ) disabled person’s perspective at the âRe-thinking disability equality policy and practice in a hostile climateâ event. ItÂ is still relevant so we are reposting it here –Â (first published by Inclusion London but removed since their new website redesign).Â
This presentation was part of a series from Inclusion London âRe-thinking disability equality policy and practice in a hostile climateâ event
This is a presentation from Michelle Daley and myself.Â Michelle is sorry she cannot be here today but we both would like to thank Inclusion London to give the BAMER disabled personâs perspective from the front line.
Â In a group discussion once, we were asked what was the most important thing weâd grab in a fire or a flood and I said âmy passportâ.
Why? Because a passport defines who you are â it defines your rights. It identifies you as a citizen â and in this country, it defines whether you have rights. A refugee does not have the same rights as we do â a disabled refugee would have even less rights. In rethinking disability equality policy in a hostile climate â do we include refugees, the stateless Â and migrants?
I was alerted to a tweet last year â about Â Manjeet Kaur in Manchester, a woman wheelchair user seeking asylum. She was facing eviction from her accommodation and possible deportation from the UK. Her eviction was prevented by a picket outside her home and other efforts by her and RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research) in Salford,
who are campaigning together. We managed to get some disability activists to join the picket.
We have a series of questions we want you to consider –
how do we ensure that in rethinking disability equality that we include all voices â travellers, those in institutions including prisons, and those excluded groups?
How about those who are citizens but do not know they have rights as disabled people?
How do we make sure we include them? Its hard enough as a disabled person to negotiate barriers and discrimination when you are a native English speaker but for those who struggle with the language and are unfamiliar with the system and bureaucracy â how do make them aware that they have also a claim to disability equality?
On the frontline, where Local Authorities are cutting back, how do we ensure that BAME people are not left behind in the âpersonalisationâ process, in the maze of bewildering social welfare reforms? Resources are being cut savagely, do DPOs who are struggling for their own existence include advocacy for thoseÂ for whom English is not their first language? what happens to the practice of equality for all in this hostile climate? are some disabled being abandoned because DPOs are struggling themselves with the dwindling resources in terms of staff, time, finance and energy?
The reality is that choices for disabled people are limited. Choice is an integral aspect of the principle of inclusion â it is about increasing peopleâs freedom and opportunity to improve their life chances. However if we continue to have limited choices made available to us, our opportunities to achieve equality of opportunity will continue to be seriously limited. What this means is that our vision of a full inclusion is always being threatened.
There is a serious erosion (and the expectations) of our disability rights signed in the Convention of rights for disabled people (CRPD). When I was interviewed on radio about access for Â disabled people, theÂ interviewer opened the discussion by asking how in times of austerity at the moment, can we afford to have disabled access, are we being realistic to ask for expensive adjustments? Our rights as citizens and as humans are seen to be expandable and that goes across board as disabled people in the ethnic minorities, women, older people, those in rural communities. As cuts slash benefits, and impact on services and wages of those who already earn a barely minimum wage (including their families) there is a scramble on what they can get to survive. Many disabled people in BAME communities depend heavily on their families Â for their care needs and this recession means many of their family members are made redundant and the first people to be impacted are poor people in those communities – many of whom areÂ living in bad housing and maybe desperate conditions.
I didnât come with shocking statistics to prove that life is harder in the BAME communities â Â this is not that kind of a conference I feel. Itâs more important for me to emphasise, as Michelle says, the different journeys of BAMER disabled. We are also impacted by what happens to our communities and our young people. In my local community forum, in the stop and search police procedure, I question the status of continuing discrimination against disabled BAMEÂ because of the colour of their skin or their faith. Who advocates for them? When you get doubly discriminated who do you go to for help? What about BAME disabled women when it comes to violence against women refuges or in hospital environment when they have accessibility needs as well as dietary and other faith needs?
Equality Act 2010 covers some of those rights in the âprotected characteristicsâ but I do not think we know what happens when they intersect. Itâs too new and I’m not a lawyer but I do know there are not that many case laws to draw upon.
This presentation comes from our dialogue, Michelle and I, with each other, we both care passionately about the disability movement but also as disabled people from those BAMER communities and we ask you not to have silos â As Michelle says : Positive and real change can only be achieved with the inclusion of everybody.
Eleanor Lisney is a founder member and coordinator of Sisters of Frida. She has represented them in Geneva for CEDAW and in NYC for UNCSW. She is an access advisor, an NUJ member on the New Media Industrial Council and the Equality Council. She is also on the British Council Disability Advisory Panel and the web team of the International Network of Women with Disabilities. She enjoys being on the EVA (Electronic Visualisation & the Arts) London organising committee.
Michelle Daley has over ten years experience working in the field of disability. She has worked for a number of organisations at local, national and international levels to develop, promote and implement policies on equality and diversity. She is one of the founder members of Sisters of Frida. Her work has played a major role in promoting and influencing the inclusion of disabled people in the mainstream society.
Michelle was a former member of Equality 2025, the Independent Living Scrutiny Group and currently a trustee of Independent Living Alternative. She has passionately worked at the grass root level addressing issues such as access, education, independent living and cultural diversity.