Posted 12.04.2022

Disability Action responded to the Department of Justice Call for Views to inform the development of a new Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy and an Equally Safe Strategy – A Strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls. The report below was written by Disability Action and compiled by d/Deaf and disabled people.

Disability Action is a Northern Ireland-based pan-disability organisation. We have worked with d/Deaf and Disabled People, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPO’s), and Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) across the region in the development of this report.  

One in two disabled women are in an abusive relationship yet it is never mentioned. Disabled women earn 22% less than non-disabled men and it is never mentioned. We don't have a gender equality strategy, a disability strategy, a violence against women and girls’ strategy or childcare provision. These are all issues that make the lives of disabled women harder.

Disabled woman carer with long-term health condition, 25-29.

Extracts from the report below:

It is essential that d/Deaf and disabled women are represented in the decision making processes which will develop the New Strategies - Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy and Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.  Without our input it is unlikely that legislation, policies, programmes and services will address our needs. Consultations processes are not always accessible to us.  It is essential to partner with d/Deaf and disabled organisations to develop accessible engagement strategies.

Disaggregated disability data is needed, for example on sexual violence experienced by women and girls who are d/Deaf and/or disabled.

Disability Action recommend:

  • Development of Adult Safeguarding legislation in collaboration with d/Deaf and disabled people and their representative organisations, ensuring that all interventions are based on informed consent;
  • Increased accessibility for d/Deaf and disabled women in reporting an incident and throughout any resulting criminal process, including through provision of sign language interpreters, and independent support to fill out forms, etc;
  • Commissioning of further research to understand experiences of d/Deaf and disabled people in accessing domestic and sexual violence services and support and access legal redress;
  • Increase funding and availability of suitably skilled and independent advocacy to enable d/ Deaf and disabled women to report abuse in all health and social care institutional settings. suitably skilled and qualified’ and ‘in all health and social care
  • Investment in commissioning of fully accessible services for d/Deaf and disabled women experiencing domestic and sexual violence including access to redress.
  • Development of prevention programmes aimed at changing attitudes and norms that encourage abuse
  • Healthy relationships and consent programmes for d/Deaf and disabled people
  • An adequate standard of living for d/Deaf and disabled people to promote economic empowerment as a protection against abuse
  • Improved measures for the identification and disclosure of abuse in supportive environments.
  • Survivor groups for d/Deaf and disabled women
  • Investment in mental health provision for d/Deaf and disabled women
  • Training and best practice development to ensure that in all abuse health and social care and institutional settings can be identified and responded to appropriately
  • Integrated provision for d/Deaf and disabled people experiencing abuse with access to legal redress
  • Meaningful, well-resourced and accessible co-production with d/Deaf and disabled women and girls and their organisations.

Read the full report from Disability Action (word document)

Read the full report from Disability Action (pdf document)

For further information contact Nuala Toman, Head of Policy at [email protected]