logo

Bringing disabled women together, mobilising
and sharing through lived experiences

Subscribe To Newsletter

Come join us in making a banner for #Processions

headshot of a woman (suffragette) with a cross behind in green and pruple colours

Artichoke will hold a series of banner making workshops led by Delaine Le Bas, a cross disciplinary artist who creates installations, performance, photography and film, at Blackfriars Settlement, 1 Rushworth Street, London SE1 ORB, on

Saturday 21st April, 14:00 – 16:30
Saturday 5th May, 14:00 – 16:30
Saturday 19th May, 14:00 – 16:30

The nearest accessible tube stop to Blackfriars Settlement is Southwark. Find more information on getting to the venue here.

For this workshop series, Artichoke invite members of Sisters of Frida, led by Delaine Le Bas, to make a unique centenary banner that will express the ideas, concerns and hopes of women in the 21st century. It is an opportunity to learn new skills from an experienced artist, make a unique, expressive banner to last and join thousands of women to celebrate 100 years of women having the vote at PROCESSIONS.

Please note: Participants attending these workshops should commit to attend all three workshops and are also invited to the PROCESSIONS London event on 10 June 2018.

PROCESSIONS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a mass participation artwork to celebrate one hundred years of votes for women. Artichoke invites women, those who identify as women and non-binary individuals across the UK to come together on the streets of Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London on Sunday 10th June 2018 to mark this historic moment in a living, moving portrait of women in the 21st century. PROCESSIONS is produced by Artichoke, the UK’s largest producer of art in the public realm, as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.

Delaine Le Bas is a cross disciplinary artist creating installations, performance, photography and film. She was one of the sixteen artists who were part of Paradise Lost The First Roma Pavilion Venice Biennale 2007. She worked with her late husband the artist Damian Le Bas on their installations Safe European Home? and projects Gypsy Revolution and Gypsy DaDa. Delaine created Romani Embassy in 2015. Delaine has created performance text works with her son the writer Damian James Le Bas. Her works have been included in Prague Biennale 2005 & 2007, Venice Biennale 2007 & 2017, Gwangju Biennale 2012, Zacheta National Gallery Of Art 2013, MWW Wroclaw Contemporary Art Museum 2014, The Third Edition Of The Project Biennial Of Contemporary Art D-0 Ark Underground Bosnia & Herzegovina 2015, Off Biennale Budapest 2015, Goteborg International Biennale For Contemporary Art Extended 2015, Critical Contemplations Tate Modern 2017.
Delaine is one of the curators for The First Roma Biennale 2018 and is an Associate Curator at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning London U.K.

These workshops are one of Artichoke’s 10 banner commissions, as part of PROCESSIONS’ 100 Years 100 Banners programme. 100 women artists have been commissioned to make banners with community groups up and down the country in the lead-up to PROCESSIONS. The final banner made during these workshops will form part of PROCESSIONS, a mass participation artwork, and will go on to be publicly exhibited across the UK following the events.

Please contact Sisters of Frida, [email protected],  by Friday 20th April to register your place in the workshops.

Find out more and register to attend PROCESSIONS at www.processions.co.uk
Follow the event at @processions2018 / #PROCESSIONS2018

Participants are required to be available for all the workshops and are invited to travel to London to carry the banner at PROCESSIONS London 2018.
Refreshments will be provided.
Spaces are limited, and allocated on a first come first serve basis.

Invite to Sisters of Frida’s celebration May 4th 5.30pm Greenwich Yacht Club

I N V I T A T I O N Please come to our celebrations 4th May 2018 from 5.30 pm Greenwich Yacht Club 1 Peartree Way, Greenwich, London SE10 0BW (nearest tube station North Greenwich, Jubilee Line, accessible venue. Please let us know other access needs) http://greenwichweddingvenues.co.uk/ We will be celebrating the work of our peer lead facilitators project And remembering our sisters, Sophie Partridge and Eleanor Firman, in setting up a memorial fund in their names. Please RSVP to hello@sisofrida.org and let us know your access needs. Non alcoholic drinks will be served but there is a bar if you wish to buy your own drinks. Some snacks will be served

 

I N V I T A T I O N

Please come to our celebrations

4th May 2018 from 5.30 pm



Greenwich Yacht Club

1 Peartree Way, Greenwich, London SE10 0BW

(nearest tube station North Greenwich, Jubilee Line, accessible venue. Please let us know other access needs)

http://greenwichweddingvenues.co.uk/

We will be celebrating the work of our peer lead facilitators project

And remembering our sisters, Sophie Partridge and Eleanor Firman, in setting up a memorial fund in their names.

Please RSVP to [email protected] and let us know your access needs.

There will be BSL interpreters


Non alcoholic drinks will be served but there is a bar if you wish to buy your own drinks. Some snacks will be served

Letter and Response in regard to question on s.76 Serious Crime Act 2015

Here is the letter we wrote to Maria Miller MP (and Jess Phillips MP)

see the Responses to the letter below (PDF link)_

16 January 2018

Dear Ms Miller (and Ms Phillips),

On Oct 26 2017, you met one of our founders, Eleanor Lisney, at Bringing Women’s Voices into the Heart of Government , Women Resource Centre, House of Common. She mentioned our concerns about the defence to controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship under s.76 Serious Crime Act 2015. You asked her if we would put this in writing to you.

You will be familiar with the offence. We welcome its introduction for all victims of abuse but it is specifically important to disabled women because:

  • Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence as non-disabled women;
  • Disabled women are disproportionately more likely to be trapped in emotionally abusive relationships and/or households where their ‘carers’ receive financial benefits as a result of the victim’s disability; and
  • [ethnicity/cultural risk element?]
  1. Content of s.76(8)

In light of the high risks for disabled women, we are therefore very concerned that s.76(8) states that it is a defence to show that:

(a) [the accused] believed that he or she was acting in [the victim’s] best interests, and

(b) the behaviour was in all the circumstances reasonable.

We understand that the defence was intended to protect carers. Notwithstanding disabled women have a heightened need for the protection of s.76, we pose the follow questions:

  1. Once the case for ‘abuse’ has been made out, why is a defence necessary?
  2. S.76(8)(b) is an objective test of reasonableness, but s.76(8)(a) is subjective and wholly irrelevant. Does the Government believe that abuse is permissible if the perpetrator believed it was acceptable?
  1. Application of s.76(8)

Turning to the application of this defence, what guidance has been provided to judges? There is a serious risk that cultural stereotypes may wrongly influence the judiciary eg that disabled people need ‘care’, that disabled people need guidance from others, that a carer is a ‘good, kind and selfless person’. In her report the former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, noted that the justice system is ‘widely perceived to be biased in favour of men’ and that disabled women in particular may be subjected to stereotypes that infantilise them.

  1. Consultation on s.76(8)

Our fourth question is to what extent were disabled women consulted on s.76 and its defence?

You will be aware that last Summer, the UN Committee on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) published its concluding observations1 following its first review of the UK government’s compliance with the Convention. The Committee frequently noted that disabled women and girls’ rights “have not been systematically mainstreamed into both the gender equality and disability agenda”. We fear that s.76(8) demonstrates this.

Once you have had a chance to consider the issues, we should be grateful for a response to our questions and to hear whether you intend to take further action.

Yours faithfully,

eleanor

Eleanor Lisney

Co founder/coordinator

[email protected]

Sisters of Frida CIC

@sisofrida

United House,

North Road, London, N7 9DP

At #WOWLDN Festival 2018

There were quite a few disabled women at the Women of the World London Festival 2018, some of whom were connected to Sisters of Frida.

Here is Nidhi Goyal’s keynote speech at the Power & Protest: Art, Activism and Disability panel for Sisters of Frida

subtitles/captions to follow soon

here are the photos of the event from the Sisters of Frida’s Flickr account

and at the instagram account

WOW Festival Sisters of Frida Panel: Power & Protest: Art, Activism and Disability Sunday 11th March, 11.30am – 12.30pm

Power & Protest: Art, Activism and Disability

Blue Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall
Sunday 11th March 11.30am – 12.30pm

From leadership on human rights to artwork informed by the politics of disability, disabled women are at the forefront of global grassroots activism. Come hear why any campaign for gender equality must include disabled women’s voices.

Asian woman wearing a white top, her hands are up in mid air in gesticulation.Key note speaker – Nidhi Goyal – Comedian and activist working on diability and gender rights. Nidhi is the founder and director of ‘Rising Flame’ a Mumbai based NGO working for disabled women and youth and is also the Sexuality and Disability Program Director at Mumbai-based non-profit Point of View. Appointed to the prestigious civil society advisory group of UN women’s Executive Director, she sits on the advisory board of “Voice” and on the board of AWID (Assoc. for Women’s Rights in Development).

 

white woman with hair tied back and sun glasses. she has a colourful scarf.Michelle Baharier is chairing this panel .

Alumni/Fellow of the Slade School of Fine Art and winner of the Julian Sullivan award, graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the University of the Arts.

She is a practicing visual/ performance Artist working with communities to make collective art works, exhibitions, public pieces and performance.

 

 

smiling woman in a red hijabNabihah Islam is a published poet and has worked alongside various theatres. Her short play, ‘Home is where the heart is‘ was performed at Theatre Deli and she recently brought the British Council’s Hijabi Monologues to the Bush Theatre. She is a British Council Fellow and worked alongside the Council of Europe as a human rights activist addressing gender violence in South Asian communities and advocating for gender rights. She co-founded two development organisations, both are recognised by the British Council as emerging organisations. Nabihah is completing her Masters in Creative Writing at Brasenose College, Oxford.

black and white photograph of an East Asian women looking to her right

Lucy Sheen is an actor, published writer, transracial adoptee and advocate for British East Asian artists and adoptee rights. Her play Under A Blood Red Moon was recently one of eight plays written by British East Asian playwrights to have been published by Oberon Books and the first anthology ever to be published in the UK of British East Asian Playwrights.

In 2015 she was one for four BAME writer|performers who presented work created under the RePlay bursary who performed an extract of about 20mins as part of Poetry International 2015.

white woman with dark curly hair looking at the camera with a slight smial

Jess Thom is a writer, performer and activist who co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 as a creative response to her experiences of life with Tourettes Syndrome. She has performed nationally and internationally, written a book, Welcome to Biscuit Land, and worked with museums, galleries and theatres to host large scale events for disabled and non-disabled children and young people

CEDAW: asking for help from disabled women

more information on CEDAW on SOF website

and on the Women Resource Centre

WRC contact:     Simma Rai [email protected]

SOF contact :  [email protected]

—————————————–

Our aim

The Government has to tell the United Nations about women’s rights in the UK.

 

We are collecting experiences from women across England to give to the United Nations. They will use these when they question the UK Government.

 

We want to be sure that disabled women are included. This report will reinforced what DDPOs wrote to the UNCPRD committee in last year’s examination in Geneva. But we will focus more on disabled women and girls’ issues.

 

Please tell us:

  • What the problems are, in your own words – we are interested in your personal experiences
  • Links to any evidence (research reports if you have them)
  • what the government has/has not done since the last time it reported in 2013, and
  • your recommendations for what needs to be done.

NB we are reporting on the period from 2013 to date.

 

We can only give a very short report to the United Nations – only 6,600 words!

We are interested in any information you can give us. Some of the areas that the UN will look at include:

 

 

  • Trafficking and Prostitution               
  • Healthcare – how the NHS supports accessibility of healthcare for disabled women
  • Political and Public Life – whether disabled women are properly represented
  • Economic and Social Benefits  – social security payments, universal credit, PIP etc
  • Rural Women – the special needs of women outside towns and cities including public transport, slow wifi speeds and access to disability services
  • Nationality  – special needs of disabled migrant women
  • Equality Before the Law – are disabled women equal?
  • Education – access to schools, colleges and university for disabled women and girls
  • Marriage and Family Life – disabled women’s rights to a family life
  • Employment – access to good quality work, and support to work (Access to Work)
  • Violence Against Women and Girls – particular problems for disabled women, for example, domestic violence, or such violence against disabled women

 

 

Your evidence will be published unless you tell us otherwise.

Let us know if you want:

☐ EITHER your evidence to be completely confidential, OR

☐ to be shared with the Equality and Human Rights Commission only.

 

Timescale

The deadline for evidence and information is 28 February 2018. Send your evidence to: [email protected]

There is more information here

General information – https://thewomensresourcecentre.org.uk/our-work/cedaw/

The Government’s own report is here –  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fGBR%2f8&Lang=en

 

The last shadow report from women’s groups is here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/GBR/INT_CEDAW_NGO_GBR_13333_E.pdf

 

If you have any questions please contact us.

Your experience

 

Any Links to Evidence? Yes/No

 

Has the Government taken action?

 

Your recommendations

 

CEDAW-shadow-report-template-for-written-evidence-from-disabled-women-final (Word doc. for downloading)
women resource centre logo

Peer development project

Project

The project will give participants opportunities to

 

  • develop facilitation, presentation and research skills
  • gain and share knowledge in an area of interest
  • put this knowledge into practice
  • meet and work with new people

 

The project will be split into two parts. The first part will consist of three sessions aimed at building facilitation skills and confidence for the participants. We will then go on to design a number of further sessions tailored specifically to the needs of individuals within the group. Each will have a mentor who will support in gaining skills in the area of work interested. This could include building campaigns, arts and self-expression, challenging interpersonal violence – the possibilities are endless!

Facilitators

The facilitators for these sessions are:

Lani Parker has worked on disability issues in various capacities including taking part in many campaigns, facilitating training, and working within disabled people’s organisations in the areas of advice, information and advocacy. She has a particular passion for doing the work of connecting social justice issues.
Lani is involved in a number of disabled people’s groups and has taken part in many sctions She was co facilitator for the Sisters of Frida’s Disability Sexuality workshop last year.

Nim Ralph - person of colour with short black hairNim Ralph has over 10 years’ experience as a trainer and facilitator, with specialisms in equalities and diversity work/anti-oppression and campaigning. They are Lead Trainer at Campaign Bootcamp and have facilitated for a wide range of groups and organisations ranging from the Girl Guides to Transgender Europe. Nim worked for Drake Music for the last 3 years, which focuses on Disability, music and technology.

 

Black woman in front of a mic - shes wearing a white shirt.Michelle Daley started working for a grassroots organisation called Action and Rights of Disabled People in London Borough of Newham as a Disability Rights Advocate. She progressed onto developing and coordinating local independent living services. While working for this organisation, she learned about the disabled people’s movement as well as the political aspects. This experience provided her with the springboard to further my career. She was offered positions with some of the most prominent organisations within the disability movement which allowed her to be part of influencing policy at a national level. Michelle is an experienced trainer and facilitator.

 

Participants

 

Eleanor Lisney (mentor Stacy Smith) is looking to improve knowledge on domestic violence and (disabled) women. She is grateful that Stacy Smith from the Her Centre, Greenwich, has agreed to mentor her.

Some of the activities from the Her Centre can be seen from the Director Stacy’s and Voluntary Worker Claire Platt ‘s interview by Greenwich Television where they discussed about Her Centre’s services.

Eleanor also went to the Huggett Centre at Barking and Dagenham to discuss the possibility of setting up a network of disabled women working against domestic abuse and services for them.

Eleanor’spage

white woman with hair tied back and sun glasses. she has a colourful scarf. Michelle Baharier (mentor Rachel Ara) is Alumni/Fellow of the Slade School of Fine Art and winner of the Julian Sullivan award, graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the University of the Arts.

She is a practicing visual/ performance Artist working with communities to make collective art works, exhibitions, public pieces and performance.

 

Michelle’s video

Black woman with long hair and red lipstick. shes wearing a check shiret.Nancy Mukoro (mentor Zita Holbourne) is interested in disability rights in the work place. She is also interested in campaigning and the role of trade unions.

 

 

 

 

Photo Esther Leighton

smiling black women with earrings and polka dot top Sorena Francis (mentors Amanda Stuart-Fisher and Dr Michelle Yaa Asantewa )

is interested in the processes involved when disabled artists create performance art with disabled and non-disabled performers, for disabled and non-disabled audiences. As her disability is acquired, this project also intends to engender confidence and insight into the work of being a disabled artist practitioner. Sorena wishes to also explore the ways in which performance art can be used as an agent for change and desires to create work that interrogate themes such as disability, dis/ableism, identity and protest.

Sorena’s page Sorena’s video

young black women smiling slightly into the camera. she is wearing a black top on.Tope Onanuga (mentor Holly Powell- Jones)

 

 

 

Tope’s video

 

asian woman in pink with glasses smilingSarifa Patel (mentor Svetlana Kotova)

 

 

 

 

Sarifa’s video

 

white woman blonde in blue hoodie with hand holding head up Magda Szarota (mentor Jess Hurd)

 

 

 

 

– – –

some photos from the facilitators session in September 2017

a black, young women with glasses sitting with a white young woman and between them in the back wall, is a picture with words ' The decisive moment'

Tope, first meeting with mentor, Holly

 

two women, one white and the other East Asian, both with glasses smiling at the camera.

Eleanor with her mentor, Stacy Smith of the Her Centre

 

 

 

two women, one blsck and one white smiling into the sample

Sorena with one of her mentors, Amanda Stuart-Fisher

 

Photos from the last facilitation session around conflict lead by Michelle Daley and Lani Parker.

Sisters of Frida: Vision and Values

When we say “disabled women” we mean self-identifying disabled women, girls and gender non-conforming people.

 

Our Vision  

A future in which disabled women are empowered, celebrated, informed, connected, valued and at the centre of society.

 

Our Mission

To make our vision a reality:

  • We create platforms that support opportunities to learn, share different experiences to increase our knowledge which enable us to challenge oppression and explore new possibilities
  • We speak out against abuse, injustice and discriminatory practices.
  • We fight for disabled women’s voices to be heard in diverse places of influence.
  • We don’t accept tokenism. We expect our allies to demonstrate meaningful engagement and commitment to securing disabled women’s liberation.
  • We embrace and celebrate our diversity by seeking out and highlighting the stories of disabled women from diverse intersectional backgrounds
  • We take opportunities to show how structures of oppression are connected and affect us all and call for their removal
  • We challenge unpaid labour of disabled women, strive for remuneration for our work and ensure our contributions are valued as individuals

 

Our Values and Ethical Principles

  • We are committed to the social model of disability and an intersectional approach to our oppressions and identities
  • We do not abuse or use our positions as a means to achieve
  • We are proud of who we are as disabled women and girls
  • We are committed to the continual process of challenging power and privileges, internally and externally
  • We believe in the self definition of identity and commit to not policing our identities
  • We expect accessibility and are creative, proactive and work in collaboration to achieve respectful and accessible spaces
  • We recognise, accept and challenge the oppressor within ourselves
  • We ensure credit is given to other disabled women for their ideas, involvement, contributions and work

Sisters of Frida at Brussels ENIL Freedom Drive

Some Sisters of Frida went to ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive,  which brought together 300 Independent Living activists from 19 countries in Brussels.

Sisters of Frida behind the banner which says Sisters of Frida, Disabled Women's Collective. They are all wearing read teeshirts. Four wheelchair users.

Zara Todd, Lani Parker, Michelle Daley and Eleanor Lisney, and Rachel O’Brien (photo by Mladen Spremo)

It brought an an end to a week of promoting independent living, peer support, protest and celebration of disability rights. The Freedom Drive has brought together around 300 independent living activists from 19 countries, from as far East as Albania, to Norway in the North.

Among the main Freedom Drive demands were the end to institutionalisation of disabled people across Europe, access to personal assistance in all countries, full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the end to cuts to support services and benefits for disabled people.

Lani Parker and Michelle Daley said:

 

We also met some MEPs, Anthea McIntyre MEP, Keith Taylor MEP, Molly Scott-Cato MEP, Wajid Khan MEP, and Daniel Dalton MEP, among others to ask them questions on independent living, accessibility, inclusive education, disability rights after Brexit, freedom of labour as part of the EU among other issues.

with man in a squatting position, 3 women wheelchair users and one woman in front.

with Wajid Khan MEP (Labour), Rebecca Farren, Lani Parker, Tara Flood and Michelle Daley (photo by Katai)

2 wheelchair users (one  black woman and one white) at either end. 3 people on sofa, all white, one man 2 women)

Tweet from Molly Scott Cato MEP with Michelle Daley, (Green Party) Keith Taylor MEP, Molly Scott Cato MEP, Tara Flood and Lani Parker

The night before the march we met up with other British attendees for dinner, including Sarah Rennie (Sisters of Frida, Steering Group member) , who had to leave before the march.

People seated at table at restaurant

dinner with other British attendees of Freedom Drive (photo by Debbie)

people at dinner table at restaurant

dinner with other British attendees of Freedom Drive (2nd table) (photo by Debbie)

We were outside the European Parliament the next day to join the other ENIL Freedom marchers on the streets of Brussels.

Michelle (wearing the red tee ENIL teeshirt) with her hand raised up in a fist leading some of the procession

Michelle Daley leading some of the way. (photo by Katai)

Thank you all for all who came with us. Thank you for ENIL to organising this and we wish Zara Todd, as incoming director, the best for the future.

More photos at Sisters of Frida Flickr account.

Involvement of Disabled Women: Nothing about us without us

The UN Committee on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) published its concluding observations following its first review of the UK government’s compliance with the Convention. We contributed to the report and went to Geneva, as volunteers, to ensure that violations of disabled women’s rights were given attention. The Committee highlighted many areas of concerns which explicitly or indirectly affect disabled women, but we’ve highlighted three key themes below.

 

1) Involvement of Disabled Women: Nothing about us without us

 

We share the Committee’s concern that disabled women and girls’ rights “have not been systematically mainstreamed into both the gender equality and disability agenda” and support its specific recommendation to “adopt inclusive and targeted measures, including disaggregated data” to prevent the multiple and intersectional discrimination we face.

 

Mainstreaming our rights, requires our involvement. We therefore also welcome the Committee’s recommendation to allocate “financial resources to support organisations representing [disabled women]” and develop mechanisms to ensure our involvement in planning and implementing law which affects our lives. For example, we were not consulted on the drafting of the coercive abuse offence in the Serious Crime Act. If we had, we would have been able to show how the ‘best interests’ defence for carers dangerously undermines the rights and safety of disabled women and people with learning disabilities.

 

Strategies need to be measured, financed and monitored. We therefore welcome the Committee’s recommendation for mechanisms to support our involvement in the design of strategies to implement the Convention through “measurable, financed and monitored strategic plans of action”. Measurability requires the collection of disaggregated data and this has been repeatedly called for by UN rapporteurs. Gaps in data mask the multiple discrimination faced by disabled women.

 

2) Multiple and Intersectional Discrimination

 

Disabled women experience sexism and dis/ableism in our everyday lives, along with many other forms of oppression (eg. based on age, sexual orientation, economic status and migrant status). Here’s an example to illustrate. A visually impaired woman cannot access information on an NHS website due to inaccessibility. This is disability discrimination, but is gender-neutral. However, lack of access to family planning services is clearly gender and disability discrimination. If she is actually a teenage girl living in a remote indigenous community, clearly intersections of multiple aspects of her identity operate to exacerbate the disadvantages she faces.

 

This is why the Convention specifically addresses the rights of disabled women in Article 6. It requires the Government to recognize that disabled women and girls face multiple discrimination. It’s therefore crucial that the Government implement the Committee’s recommendation to explicitly incorporate protection from “multiple and intersectional discrimination” in national legislation. Whether it’s routine GP appointments, cervical testing or maternity care, disabled women constantly struggle to access medical services, so we strongly support the Committee’s recommendation to develop “targeted measurable and financed” strategies to eliminate barriers in access to health care and services and to measure their progress.”

 

3) Access to Justice

Our rights are worthless if they are unenforceable or ignored. The barriers with the justice system are procedural, financial and accessibility-related and stop us from bringing claims to enforce our civil rights, count against us in proceedings (eg divorce and family matters) and prevent us from reporting criminal abuse against us.

 

We therefore strongly support the Committee’s recommendations:

  • to develop training for the judiciary and law enforcement personnel. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has already noted concerns about “women being deemed unfit mothers for having ‘failed to protect’ their children from an abusive parent”. Ignorant, counterproductive and damaging comments and actions by judges and police must end.
  • to provide “free or affordable legal aid” for disabled people in all areas of law. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has specifically noted concern about the evidential requirements to apply for legal aid and the consequences for family law problems.

 

The many other areas of concern noted by the Committee can be read here

 

Next Steps

 

We were disappointed by the lack of media attention given to the 17-page catalogue of shame but the disabled community, including the DPOs, continue to valiantly highlight the UN’s findings.

 

Whilst we welcome the Committee’s recommendation for the UK Government to produce annual reports on its progress, we fear it will be another exercise of denial and lack data, evidence or understanding of intersectional discrimination.

 

We, Sisters of Frida, are preparing for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and working with other women’s organisations on this. In the meantime, we are joining the ENIL Freedom March in Brussels and will raise it with our MEPs as to how they will be responding to protecting disabled women on VAWG as the Istanbul Convention is being ratified by the UK government.

 

Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO of the Women Resource Centre says:

“The last time Sisters of Frida went with the UK CEDAW Working Group to Geneva, we noted in our oral statement that women of all ages and backgrounds in the UK are facing threats to their rights but this does not have to be the case if government policies are created in partnership with women’s NGOs and include a gendered perspective. This will ensure that there is not a long-term legacy of discrimination against women, and will also impact on the future economy.

 

In 2017, Sisters of Frida note that disabled women are acknowledged as still facing the same level of discrimination in the UNCRPD Concluding Observations. We call upon the UK government to honour its commitment to women’s rights and work with us to establish a clear and inclusive mechanism in order to bring women’s voices into the heart of government.”

 

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Co-Director of the Women’s Budget Group said:

 

‘We know that disabled women have been hit particularly badly by austerity policies over the last seven years. Disabled women have lost income through cuts to both specific disability benefits but also to housing benefit, tax credits and benefits for children. Cuts to public services including social care, health, education and transport budgets have all disproportionately affected disabled women.

The Public Sector Equality Duty, contained in the 2010 Equality Act, places a positive obligation on all public authorities to have due regard to the impact of their policies and practices on equality. Despite this the government have failed to publish meaningful assessments of the cumulative impact of austerity on equality.

We call on the government to meet both their obligations under both domestic and international law to ensure that their policies meet the needs of disabled women’

 

Sarah Green, Co-Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition said:

 

“It is known that disabled women are disproportionately subjected to sexual and domestic violence by perpetrators of these crimes, and that disabled women face additional barriers to escaping and staying safe, and even in being believed.

 

“International human rights treaties require our Government to ensure that disabled women’s needs are specifically considered and addressed when implementing policy on policing and preventing violence. Following the UN CRDP inquiry into the UK’s performance in this area, we need to hear assurances from the UK Government that disabled women’s needs are known and are made part of policy and practice in relation to ending and preventing abuse.”

 

Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters said:

 

‘Leave no woman behind’ is an important development and human rights goal that is central to achieving gender equality and one to which the UK government claims to be committed. But in the UK this goal remains largely rhetorical as the most vulnerable women – those with disabilities and multiple needs – are rendered marginalised and invisible by increasingly harsh economic and social welfare measures. Disabled women’s needs and rights are being gravely and systematically violated by the UK government. Why else do we see such an appalling lack of access to emergency shelters, secure housing and welfare rights, education, work, health and counselling facilities for disabled women who are also fleeing domestic violence? If the UK wants to be recognised as a leader in disability and human rights, it must develop laws, policies and strategies that enhance the rights of all women. This means understanding and addressing the overlapping and intersecting forms of discrimination such as race, gender and disability that create additional vulnerabilities and barriers for women. Sadly this government is unlikely to turn its rhetoric on achieving a ‘fairer’ society into reality but we are ready to stand with our disabled sisters to shame the government into action.

 

Lee Eggleston on behalf of Rape Crisis England and Wales said:

 

‘Disabled women who have experienced sexual violence make up a quarter of Rape Crisis service users – which is an indication of how disproportionately disabled women are impacted by sexual violence, often by their own carers. The voice and engagement of specialist organisations run by and for disabled women, like Sisters of Frida and Stay Safe East, is essential to the CEDAW process in raising awareness of sexual violence to the Committee.’

 

Zarin Hainsworth OBE, Chair,  National Alliance of Women’s Organisations

 

Disabled women  face multiple disadvantage in being able to participate as fully as they wish in all aspects of their lives – social, as well as political and economic .  The CEDAW Committee made recommendations in their concluding observations to their last report that would improve the capacity of women in the UK to access health care and justice but little has been achieved and austerity policies combined with a lack of specific attention to the issues faced by disabled women, make these more not less distant goals.  Indeed, disabled women – especially those with learning disabilities who are also likely to experience mental ill-health – continue to face the loss of their babies at birth.

We strongly support NAWO members, Sisters of Frida, in their campaign for focused attention by the UK Government on the needs and concerns of disabled women and girls.’

 

 

We would be happy to hear from others, individuals and/or organisations, who would like to join us in our campaign for disabled women’s rights in issues mentioned here. Please comment below or write to [email protected], tweet @sisofrida

 

Note: Stay Safe East is a unique user-led organisation run by disabled people, providing specialist and holistic advocacy and support services to disabled people from diverse communities in East London (currently Waltham Forest and Newham) who are victims/survivors of domestic or sexual violence, hate crime, harassment and other forms of abuse.