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Description

The research was prepared by non-governmental organization "Partnership for Human


Rights" (PHR) within the framework of the UN project "Mainstreaming the rights of
persons with disabilities in National Action Plan for gender-based violence." This
document represents a pilot study rather than a thorough research of the subject. The
document is intended for the law enforcement officials and other interested parties.
Authors are responsible for the content of the guideline. The views expressed in the
text may not be compatible with the EU position.

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Contents
Abbreviations Used ............................................................................................................................ 4
Abstract............................................................................................................................................... 5
Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 6
1. Statistics ...................................................................................................................................... 7
2. Methodology .............................................................................................................................. 9
I. Violence against women with disabilities. .................................................................................... 9
II.Major Barriers for women with disabilities ................................................................................ 11
1. Systemic Barrier ........................................................................................................................... 11
2. The Referral System Barrier ........................................................................................................ 12
3. The Communication Barrier ....................................................................................................... 13
4. Verbal Communication Barrier ................................................................................................... 14
III. Common forms of violence against women with disabilities.................................................. 15
Types of physical violence ....................................................................................................... 16
Sexual Violence ........................................................................................................................ 16
Emotional and Psychological violation ................................................................................... 17
IV. Cases of violence against women with disabilities................................................................... 17
Case 1: .................................................................................................................................. 18
Case 2: .................................................................................................................................. 19
Case 3: .................................................................................................................................. 20
V. Why a women victim with disabilities do not ask for help? .................................................... 21
VI. Myths that prevent law enforcement agencies and other responsible persons from efficient
operation. .......................................................................................................................................... 22
VII. Conclusion ................................................................................................................................ 23
VIII. The main principles and recommendations for working ..................................................... 24
Bibliography ..................................................................................................................................... 27
1. References .................................................................................................................................... 27
2. Used Internetresources ................................................................................................................ 27

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Abbreviations Used

UNCRPD - the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

PHR Non-governmental organization "Partnership for Human Rights"

WHO - World Health Organization

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Abstract

This document aims to identify numerous barriers and obstacles that prevent persons
with disabilities, especially women, to benefit from justice system equally and freely.

Identifying the barriers will help investigative agencies and other institutions working
in the justice system, to make their primary response and further investigation of the
alleged fact of violence more effective.

The document emphasizes the formal and content regulation of services, which directly
effects victim's actual use of them.

The guideline creates an apparent picture and frameworks to simplify and ease the
identification of crime or discriminatory treatment and its legal solutions, so that the
needs of persons with disabilities, especially women, are fully satisfied.

This document clearly highlights the major barriers that actually prevent or preclude
report of a crime and suitable state actions. The document allows reader to assess the
complexity of the existing challenges and helps in the adaptation of the investigation
and crime reporting systems, as well as in the right allocation of resources and the
assecement of their relevance.

The issue is important because of the following aspects: when the barriers can not be
overcome, the competent authorities aren't informed about the crime, process of
investigation faces difficulties, this is linked to criminal impunity and hinderes
prevention of new crime.

The document focuses on the international treaties whose signatory state is Georgia.

The guideline includes general recommendations for the reforms that should be
implemented in order to support people with disabilities as the victims of violence.
These reforms will ensure that that people will overcome the facing barriers, have
effective protection and support.

It should be noted that this document is not a comprehensive analysis of the issue; It
underlines the basic contours and directions of the problem that need to be researched
in-depth.

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Introduction

Access to justice is one of the fundamental human rights that is hardly realized by
people with disabilities, particularly by women. First of all, it should be noted that
access to justice in most countries is usually available to those who have financial,
political or cultural power, whereas minorities or other groups experiencing
discrimination and subordination are excluded from it. The paradox that those most in
need for access to justice are the least likely to receive it remains one of the most
compelling human rights issues of the 21st century1.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006
(UNCRPD) emphasises the importance of access to justice (Article 13):

1. States Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities
on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and
age-appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as
direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings,
including at investigative and other preliminary stages.

2. In order to help to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities,
States Parties shall promote appropriate training for those working in the field of
administration of justice, including police and prison staff.

People with disabilities face plenty of challenges, that determine the intensity of the
violation of their rights on different stages. It should be pointed out that rights and
freedoms are often in threat based on discriminatory motives. When talking about the
situation of persons with disabilities, special attention should be paid to women with
disabilities, who become the victims of violence in almost every country (like other
women). Therefor, the United Nations Convention regulates gender sensitive and
women's issues in a separate article.

Articles 6:

1
Disabled Justice? Access to Justice and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,
Foreword; EILIONOIR FLYNN, National University of Ireland, Galway; Published by Ashgate
Publishing Limited, England.

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1. States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to
multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and
equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development,
advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the
exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the
present Convention.

Therefore, this document is devoted to review the issues of violence against women
with disabilities and the unique characteristics that make women with disabilities
particularly vulnerable group.

Women with disabilities face at least twice increased risk of violence; First of all,
because they are women and therefore, belong to high risk group of gender-based
violence; at the same time, disability itself increases their vulnerability 2 .
Simultaneously, these women are victims of general stereotypical views about women
and persons with disabilities.3 The combination of above mentioned factors increase the
risk of violence against women with disabilities.

1. Statistics

Women with disabilities, who are victims of many types of domestic violence
(including sexual violence, harassment), similar to other women, face multiple obstacles
when they intend to turn away from violence and/or violent environment. They face
more difficulties in the institutions and bodies, whose main responsibility is to protect
and support victims, identify, refer or investigate crime.

2
Women with disabilities. Victoria. Empowering women. Fact Sheet 3
http://www.wdv.org.au/documents/Fact%20Sheet%203%20Violence.pdf
3United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence

against Women, its causes and consequences,


RashidaManjoo* 2013, pg. 3
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A_HRC_23_49_Engli
sh.pdf

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It is important to note that women with disabilities often experience more intense
emotional, physical and sexual harassment than women without disabilities. This fact is
confirmed by the studies4 about violence against children and persons with disabilities
carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other authoritative
organizations, according to which:

Approximately 15% of the world population has a disability, and these


individuals are under much higher risk of violence than persons without
disabilities. Analysis of the data used in the research confirmed high correlation
between disability and violence. The work also hilights the fact that low or
middle-income countries have incomplete databases about these issues.5
Many studies show that women, especially ones with disablilities, are more
vulnerable to violence and according to the statistics, there is high percentage
of criminal acts against them. For example, the national survey conducted in the
United States showed that 62% of female respondents (860 people), including
women with physical disabilities, had experienced physical and emotional
(psychological) violence from husband, partner or family members. It should
also be noted that women with disabilities suffer from more long-lasting
violence consequences, compared to women without disabilities.6
83% of women with developmental disorder and 32% of men with
developmental disorder have experienced sexual abuse.7
In most cases, women (including women with disabilities) are abused by their
husband/partner. Women of this social group are also mistreated by nurses or
service providers.8
Women with disabilities are often threatened by abusers. Threats include
placement in the institutions and detention in psychiatric institutions. 9

4"Prevalence and risk of violence against adults withdisabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis
ofobservational studies." 2012, pg. 3.
http://www.who.int/disabilities/publications/violence_children_lancet.pdf
5 WHO "Disabilities and Rehabilitation", "Violence against adults and children with disabilities".

http://www.who.int/disabilities/violence/en/
6Young M.E.,Nosek M.A., HowlandC.A., ChanpongG., and RintalaD.H., Prevalence of Abuse of Women

with Physical Disabilities. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 78, December (1997).
7 Johnson, I.M., Sigler, R.T., Forced Sexual Intercourse among Intimates, Journal of Interpersonal

Violence. 15(1) (2000).


8Sobsey, D., Sexual Offences and Disabled Victims: Research and Practical Implications. Vis-a-vis, Vol.

6, No. 4 (1988).

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79% of women with disabilities receive inadequate service, or they are not
provided any service at all. 10

In Georgia, as in many other countries violence against women with disabilities is a


large-scale problem. Therefore, there is a need for great effort from policy makers and
law enforcement authorities, to revise legal regulations and sensitize minimal standards
of reaction on crime by law enforcement officials.

2. Methodology

The document is based on the views and experiences of the organization Partnership
for Human Rights" (PHR), that are built on the international and local researches on
this subject. While preparing the guideline, was processed official information that
were taken from the official state websites and requested from various state agencies.
The authors also used reports of experienced and qualified organizations prepared on
this issue. The guideline is not a thorough research of the practice of law in Georgia and
therefore it can be generalized.

I. Violence against women with disabilities.

Discrimination and crime of violence against women is one of the major challenges in
Georgia.

According to the parliamentary report of Public Defender 2013, from January 1, 2013 to
30 December 2013 the number of reports about family conflict to 112" - Emergency
Response Center, was 5447, of which only 358 cases have been identified as domestic
violence and in 212 were issued restraining orders.

The most significant is as extreme form of violence as murder. According to the official
data of Ministry of Internal Affairs, in 2013, 21 cases of murder of women have been
identified in Georgia - 9 of which was conducted by family members.11

9Young M.E.,Nosek M.A., HowlandC.A., ChanpongG., and RintalaD.H., Prevalence of Abuse of Women
with Physical Disabilities. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 78 (12, Suppl. 5) S34-S38.
10 Sobsey, D., Wells, D., Lucardie, R., & Mansell, S. (Eds), Violence and Disability: An annotated

bibliography. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes, 1995).

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According to the official statistics of Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2014, 10 000 cases
of domestic violence were reported on 112 hot line, on 817 of the domestic violence
cases were issued restraining orders.

According to the statistics of the ministry, there were 19 cases of killing women in
Georgia.12It's important that the official statistics are different from media reports about
murders of women, that includes at least 26 murders. Among them are a several cases of
incitement to suicide and a murder of transgender women. These cases aren't likely to
be indicated in the official statistics of the state as violence against woman and murder.
This raises questions about the reliability of statistical data processed by the state.

In Georgia, discriminatory treatment toward persons with disabilities is prohibited by


number of legal documents, however many cases of violence and discrimination occurs
on the grounds disability. The main cause of this problem is that the state inneficiently
uses legislation and underestimates the importance of the issue. Despite the fact that
Georgia, as a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (UNCRPD) is obliged to establish research and statistical database for
persons with disabilities, there is no a complete data system, which is another obstacle
in terms of consideration needs and problems of people with disabilities, especially in
direction of elimination of crime and discrimination committed against women.

In 2013-2014 official statistic data, can not be found information about a person with
disability who has become victim of violence.

On June 27, 2014 and July 30, the organization "Partnership for Human Rights"
addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs 13 and requested information on whether
statistical data processing mechanism in regard of violence against women with special
needs was being improved. Our organization was informed14 that Ministry of Internal
Affairs do not produce or plan to produce statistics about women with psycho-social
needs.

Thus, there is no comprehensive official statistics about this subject in Georgia, which
further complicates perception of the importance of the issue, but makes it clear that
this subject needs further thorough study.

11http://ombudsman.ge/uploads/other/1/1563.pdfpg. 500
12http://police.ge/Statistical data of violence in family, 2014
13Letter#05/80-14; #05/105-14

14
Letter#1395076; #1583271

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This problem originates from inefficient state legislative policy, as well as stereotypical
views of people,who in most cases recognize the mens dominant position, diminishes
importance of women and endangers one of the most important constitutional right -
equality. Such an approach leads to domestic and other forms of gender-based violence
and restrains women from reporting these crimes to relevant agencies.

Violence on the grounds of disability against women is particularly high in single


mothers, older, minority and women with disabilities. The main reason, on one hand,
are pre-formed wrong ideas about the social roles of men and women and less tolerant
attitudes toward diversity in general; On the other hand high level of insecurity of
above mentioned people, which makes them one of the most vulnerable groups of
society. In this reality, the most problematic issue is reporting violence to law
enforcement agencies and/or addressing courts to protect their rights. It can be said,
that all of the above-mentioned problems are caused by each other.

Situation is rather difficult in cases of rural women. This may be because of their lower
incomes, limited access to information, infrastructure, transport, public or private
services and communication technologies that prevents the rural population, especially
women, from reporting a crime.

II. Major Barriers for women with disabilities

1. Systemic Barrier

Protection of women with disabilities as the victims of violence and effective


communication with them is hampered by many factors; Very important aspect is
systemic barriers that can be presented in a variety of ways. For example, in the
country, there is state policy, programs and procedures against violence against women
in general that are meant for protection of the victims, however, very often the above
mentioned documents and rules do not meet the needs of the victims who belong to
different social groups (in this case we mean women with certain disabilities).

Systemic barriers significantly impede effective protection of victims. Their existence


hinders women with disabilities to enjoy policy documents (including legislative
frameworks), services, procedures (including special investigative rules) relevant to
their needs; That is why violence against women still continues. During the latest

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decades, is developing various systems against violence. Legal mechanisms are being
improved, but the special needs of women with disabilities are are not taken into
consideration in this process.

Often the country's approach involves making a flexible policy, that will respond to all
the challenges women are facing; but, while making the policy, they do not take into
account the fact, that general, even flexible regulations are unfit and useless for women
with disabilities. It is necessary to implement approaches that will make it possible to
use special measures so that each problem can be approached individually, because
women in general, their way of life and the barriers they face are quite different from
those with special needs. A good example are shelters for victims of violence, which are
often quite sufficient in number for the country. This at first glance, gives an
impression that the service meets primary needs of women with disabilities; However,
if the service is evaluated, using at least, the indicator of physical accessibility standards,
it will turn out that in fact it is absolutely inaccessible for women victims
of violence who have mobility impairment.

It should also be considered, that the systematic approach should meet the interests and
needs of women with all types of disabilities. For example, in most states the need for
physical access to shelters are taken into account (they are equipped with wheelchair
ramps or zero entrance, no elevator, no barriers to the internal design of the cover,
etc.), but the fact that the limited abilities include not only physical or sensory
impairments, but also intellectual, mental problems is ignored and the existing
infrastructure and services do not support people with such disabilities. Shelters should
be assessed in terms of the availability for persons with mental and cognitive
disabilities; In particular, whether if there is a special group of supporters, composed of
professionals working with multi-disciplinary approach; If there are rules drawn up in
an understandable language and given in form of audio, video or written documents for
such victims; If the shelter staff is trained to use various methods of communication and
the certain types of specific skills.

2. The Referral System Barrier

The referral system also generates significant barriers for women with disabilities.
Different referral rules should be developed for women with certain disabilities, which

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are derived from their special needs. Typically, there is no adequate, confidential
referral system. For example, right of confidentiality of women with mental and/or
intellectual/cognitive disabilities is violated by the persons whose obligation is to
protect these women. The referral process requires each unit (the referral system
division) to answer questions about whether this or that referral procedure is necessary
and required. Why are women with disabilities referred from one institution to
another. Are women with disabilities referred with their permission (with their
consent) and does the victim herself considers that this procedure is important and
necessary for her.15Women with disabilities do not often receive the services provided
by referral system, or some link is missing from the process.

The procedures should mainly be focused on the fact that women with disabilities are
as much in need of the primary necessary assistance (for example, shelter, support,
protection, and so forth) as other women victims of violence in critical situations. The
referral procedure should be suitable and adequate for the needs of every victim.

Critical analysis of the referral and policy systems, as well as review of regulations is
necessary for the renewal of the system on the one hand, and on the other hand for
providing detailed and adequate explanations. Here is an example of the definition of "a
physical threat". When it comes to persons with disabilities, the definition of "physical
threat should be expanded to include cases when for example, a wheelchair was taken
away from a person with disabilities that created obstacles to move, not to have access
to medicines or other forms of treatment; person with obligation to take care of the
person with disability has stopped or reduced to give them care. All these pose a
physical threat to women with disabilities that should be adequately assessed by the law
enforcements agencies.

3. The Communication Barrier

Effective communication is important for women with disabilities, who are victims of
violence in order to receive adequate legal protection. Lack of communication or
ineffective communication may create insurmountable barriers for this group of
women.

15
Double Oppression: Violence against Disabled Women, A resource pack for practitioners, pg. 16
http://www.niaendingviolence.org.uk/perch/resources/double-oppression-violence-against-disabled-
women.pdf

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For women with all types of disabilities, especially ones with intellectual, mental and
sensor impairments, a major problem while accessing justice arises when it is impossible
for them to communicate. If a woman is not able to tell the story of violence to the law
enforcement officials cannot describe facts, ask or answer questions, understand what
kinds of services are available for her, and what help she can get from the state, then it
is impossible for her to enjoy her right to access justice and escape the violence. At the
same time, communication barrier prevents professionals (police, prosecutor, judge) to
enforce law equally.

First of all, policymakers should make revisions in the procedures or policy documents,
where needs of women with all types of disabilities will be taken into account; also
existing services need to be modified. The crucial need of the latter is particularly
obvious in cases of women with hearing impairments or deafness. These people are in
need for effective communication with sign language specialists or interpreters who can
help them to fully cooperate with investigation agencies (and to inform the
representatives of the authorities). Besides, while receiving interpreters service norms
of ethics must be guaranteed. Interpreters must have a clear understanding of their role
in the communication and consider the following:

All received and translated information must be confidential;


Interpreter should be neutral. They are not allowed to intervene, give advice or
state personal opinion while translation;
Interpreter must be professional;
Interpreter must be specialized, trained in working in specific environments.
For example, medical and court translators are substantially different from each
other in terms of skills and qualifications.

When a woman with disabilities does not want to communicate through an interpreter,
women's right to communicate with the investigator in writing should be considered.
These procedures will ensure the fundamental rights of all actors in free/effective
communication.

4. Verbal Communication Barrier

Major difficulties for persons with disabilities in verbal communication are incorrect
understanding and perception of information, sensibly giving positive or negative

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answers, remembering relevant details from the information and interaction with
strangers.

In order to make an effective communication and use all the necessary equipment and
professionals, it is important to have consent of women victims. Stereotypes about
people with disabilities often lead to their complete separation from the processes that
affects them, and in certain situations their needs are determined by others. Thus, they
may apply wrong ways to communicate.

When the effective verbal communication cannot be established people who are
responsible to identify violence and lead the criminal processes, are hindered to
perform their job on a high level. Thus, it is in the government's interest to timely
receive information from a victim.

Very often, professionals conduct verbal communication quite sufficiently, but because
of womens developmental impairment, they might not understand the content and/or
important details adequately. Therefore, it is necessary to communicate with persons
with disabilities very carefully and if difficulties arise, it is necessary to get professional
help from other specialists.

III. Common forms of violence against women with disabilities

In modern times, the ineffectiveness of law enforcement systems is a result of lack of


adequate information and misinterpretation of legislative norms. Traditional definitions
of violence against people with disabilities do not respond practical difficulties. In many
cases, some forms of violence may be expressed in such ways that, at first glance, signs
of violence cannot be identified. In fact, these actions could lead to disastrous and
damaging results. Therefore, it is necessary for police officers or other officials to
possess the basic information about disabilities and specific forms of violence that are
used against persons with disabilities. Definitions should be formulated in accordance
with the modern vision; In addition, it is necessary to specify the actions which can be
interpreted as a form of violence only in cases of persons with disabilities.

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Basic forms of violence used against people with or without disabilities are basicly alike.
However, women with disabilites are often victims of different forms of violence. Some
of them will be discussed below16:

Types of physical violence:

1. Hitting, poking, pinching, attempt to suffocate, burning with cigarretes and etc.
especially when women has physical impairment and cannot run away form
danger or to protect themself.
2. Confiscation or restriction of auxiliary and adaptation means (crutches,
wheelchairs, hearing aids) or moving them against woman's will.
3. Inflicting pain with auxiliary and adaptation means (roughly adjusting, fitting
the wrong size, which may cause pain and discomfort);
4. Insufficient administration of medication / treatment regime violation;
5. Refusal to help or support that may cause pain or discomfort.
6. Rough and brutal forms of care (for example, giving a person with mobility
impairment (or a person in bed) cold bath);
7. The forced feeding or food restriction;
8. Illegal use of physical and chemical restrictions;
9. Unsanitary conditions, provifing unsanitary clothing or linen supply;
10. Letting in to stay in bathroom for extended or limited period of time;
11. Refusal to help in using toilet or bathroom.

Sexual Violence

1. Touch of sexual nature during physical assistance or while helping to move;


2. Unwanted forms of hugging, violating physical distance;
3. Persuading a woman with disabilities into a sexual intercourse by thretening her
with refusal to help;
4. Using assistive devices for the purpose of sexual harassment;

16Double Oppression: Violence against Disabled Women, A resource pack for practitioners, pg. 10-11
http://www.niaendingviolence.org.uk/perch/resources/double-oppression-violence-against-disabled-
women.pdf

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5. Invasion of personal space and privacy violation while changing clothes, bathing
or using toilet;
6. Using metaphors of sexual nature emphasizing their disability;
7. Denying person's sexuality due to their disability;
8. Forbidding to use contraception;
9. Forced sterilization;
10. Forced abortion or contraception.

Emotional and Psychological violation

1. Hiding information;
2. Making decisions about the life of woman with disability;
3. Threats of institutionalization, abandonment, confinement and isolation in
general;
4. Threatening a child, pet or any other important object of the person with
disabilities;
5. Compelling them to be in non-accessible conditions;
6. Permanent accompanying, restricting them to stay alone;
7. Calling nicknames due to their disablility;
8. Forcing to request help, food or money in derogatory forms;
9. Justifying of violence against women with disabilities due to their disabilities.
10. Inspiring the notion that they are undesirable due to their disability;
11. Controlling their money and benefits;
12. Patronizing - restriction of freedom of women with disabilities in various forms;
13. Evoking phobias and depression;
14. Speaking on a confusing and difficult way on purpose;
15. Threatening to limit caring them;
16. Isolation- controlling what she is doing, who she is meeting or talking to;
17. Refusing to give assistive items providing their independance.

IV. Cases of violence against women with disabilities

While analyzing the issue of domestic violence against persons with disabilities, it is
important to consider the specific cases of violence. As we have repeatedly mentioned,

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practice of Georgia, especially the official data about the victims, does not include
information about the number of women victims of violence and activities carried out
in order to protect them.

In this guideline, will be described some important cases of violence, that are not based
on real facts 17 , but depict the details of actual violent actions against women with
disabilities and describes barriers that are faced by only women with disabilities, that
becomes a reason why information about violence does not reach to the court. Each
case is about violence against women with different types of disabilities (physical
impairments, psychosocial needs). Problems raised in these cases should be carefully
analyzed.

Case 1:

Edna K. Has a phisical impairment. She uses a wheelchair for mobility. Edna has
constantly experienced violence from her male partner, that was manifested in variety
of activities. It was beating, and other kinds of physical abuses and actions that were
associated with her disability, namely: after beating the woman, her partner did not
allow her to plug the wheelchair to charge supply, resulting an absolute immboility of
the woman, so that the victim didn't have a chance to report the crime. She was in such
conditions for hours. A few months later, the assailant was arrested and charged for the
assault.

Later Edna appealed to the prosecutor's office and demanded to terminate the case of
abusive partner; the reason, she explained, was that her partner was the only person
who took care of her and helped her to satisfy the various needs of her. Therefore,
convicting him would leave her without a caregiver.

Edna's case highlights a few important factors. First: it clearly indicates how vulnerable
women with physical disabilities are in cases of violence and emphasizes their specific
differences (using a wheelchair) from the non-disabled women. Since, she moves with a
wheelchair, it gives the offender opportunity to easily control the victim. The second

17
See, e.g., Kimberly Black Wisseman, Youre My Pretty Bird in a Cage: Disability, Domestic Violence,
and Survival, http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/133/over1.html (last visited May 26, 2007). This
account is not the factual basis for the above case examples, rather, it is cited to show that the above,
fictional cases examples are based in reality.

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(and main): Existence of disability makes victims with disabilities refuse to cooperate
with the investigative authorities. Violence against women with disabilities is often
carried out by their caregivers or other kinds of supporters. Thus, women with
disabilities face the choice, to make a complaint about the abuser and therefore be left
without a caregiver and spend her lifetime in shelter; or to tolerate violence, and get
least help from violent caregiver.

Case 2:

Marge S. is a woman with mild mental disability. Marge met her partner 8 years ago.
He worked as a driver of an adapted car that she used. Throughout their entire
relationship the partner forced the woman to have sexual relationship with him
(against her will). It is important that man has never used physical force against her;
Instead, he used other methods to involve her into the sexual intercourse - he thretened
to leave her if his desire wasn't satisfied. This tactic is not generaly helpful with women
without disabilities, however, proved to be effective in the case of a women with
mental disability. Abusive man did not have to use force to accomplish his will as it
happenes in case of rape; He took advantage of the woman's disability to persuade her
to act against her will.18

After several cases of compelling the woman to act against her will she declined to
involve into the sexual relationship with her partner and then she was replied that no
one forced her to do so. Eventually, they were separated with women's initiative, after
which he began harassing her through phone. Later the abuser was arrested. The
woman said at the prosecutor's office that they had 8-year-relationship; The victim
described violator in the following way: He knows the needs of persons with
disabilities; This man had sexual intercourse with a disabled woman, to whom no one
would want to have a relationship because of her condition; Therefore, from the
woman's point of view, this action should be appreciated.

18
Although, according to feminist theories,such act is classifies as a rape; See Susan Estrich, Rape, 95 Yale
L.J. 1087, 1161(1986). However, a discussion of whether this conduct is or should be considered rape is
beyond the scope of this paper.

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The case of Marge S. has highlighted the particular vulnerability of women with mental
disabilities to violence; It also ilustrated the stereotypes existing in the society (and
among women), according to which women with disabilities can not have a sufficient
sexual relationship; Therefore, everyone should be appreciated for having such, even
violative relationship with them.

Case 3:

Selma B. is a woman with psychosocial needs and is diagnosed with borderline


personality disorder. This condition is a mental disorder, which is characterized by
instability of mood, interpersonal relationships, self-esteem and behavior. The
characteristics of the individual often create barriers in a family, at work and during
planning long-term purposes; Self-confidence is also weakend in these cases.

Selma B. has been physically and verbally abused by her ex-husband, and that is why
they often had to deal with law enforcement officials. The woman often criticized the
court system, which could have solved the victim's problem; moreover, processes were
delayed unreasonably. She claimed that there was ineffective communication between
citizens and law enforcement officials. They avoided communication with the victim,
thinking she was mentally unstable, making it difficult to cooperate with her; and the
reason of all this was her psychosocial needs.

Selma's case shows that the legal infrastructure is ineffective and absolutely does not
meet the special needs when it comes to violence against women with disabilities (in
particular, the psycho-social needs). It also shows that women with disabilities find
dealing with justice system very hard because of their conditions; Prosecutors and
officers of other legal institutions are not ready for effective communication.

These three cases are small part of the millions of cases of women who suffer from
various forms of violence because they are women and at the same time people with
disabilities. Most of the cases have common characteristics, that indicates inadequate
legal infrastructure. The latter includes both law enforcement agencies (the police, the
prosecutor's office) and the judiciary, as well as free legal aid services, shelters, crisis
centers and other relevant governmental or non-governmental agencies, which are
designed to protect and serve female victims of violence.

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V. Why a women victim with disabilities do not ask for help?

Myths and stereotypes existing in the society have damaging effects on victim women
with disabilities and on their perceptions that make existing barriers even more
sustainable.

Stereotypical views and feelings are various; Most of them are summarized below19:

Feeling shame because of what happened;


Belief, that they deserve the violent treatment that they have been subjected to;
Belief, that violence against them was due to their disability and it is their fault;
Lack of information about their rights and laws that protect them from violence;
Unawareness of the fact that what is happening to them is violence, because it
has been happening for a long time.
Living in a violent environemnt is their only choice in order to have house and
care (even from their violator);
Undergoing degrading and ill-treatment in fear of institutionalization;
Lack of trust in law enforcement and justice system;
Negative experiences from dealing with law enforcement officials, social
workers and other officials;
Threat of isolation from the abuser that makes the victim vulnerable;
Feat, that no one will believe and help them;
Fear of being punished by the abuser for reporting the violence;
Fear of being disgraced and punished or their children will be taken away by
family after reporting violence;

Because of these mainstream attitudes and misconceptions in society, women with


disabilities do not ask for help, even when they are victims of violence and adequately
comprehend their situation. Women face this challenge in general; however, it is
somewhat different when it comes to women with disabilities. They are forced to
continue to live in a violent environment, and do not use legal instruments, such as
reporting to investigative bodies, private and/or social service agencies.

19Double Oppression: Violence against Disabled Women, A resource pack for practitioners, pg. 10-14
http://www.niaendingviolence.org.uk/perch/resources/double-oppression-violence-against-disabled-
women.pdf

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It is important this information to be available for the investigative agencies, as well as
staff of governmental and non-governmental organizations, to make effective and well-
timed report of crime, investigation and to use every legal mechanism in order to
protect women with disabilities, regardless of the victim's negligence.

VI. Myths that prevent law enforcement agencies and other responsible
persons from efficient operation.

Very often identifying the violence is very hard and/or responses are inefficient; It is
caused not only by the failure of the system or outdated regulations, but also firmly
rooted stereotypical attitudes in the society that have an adverse effect on the quality of
professional performance. As a result, protecting victims of violence becomes
impossible or simply the system cannot detect various acute problems of this social
group.

Myths that hinder the work of professionals20:

No one will use violence against women with disabilities;


Women with disabilities are not sexually active and desirable, they do not have
an ability to establish relationship that might involve violence or grow into it;
Women with disabilities make up stories about violence against them;
Women with psychosocial needs are not victims, but abusers themselves,
because generally persons with mental problems are agressive violators;
Women with disabilities cannot be a witness of violence, or to testify on the case
of violence;
A little violence against woman with disability, from her caregiver is
understandable and expectable.
Women with disabilities do not know what violence is and interviewing them is
useless;
Women with disabilities do not have relevant information to choose what is best
for them. They will remain victims; Therefore tryng to help them is useless;
Women with disabilities cannot tell the truth, therefore their narrations are not
reliable;

20Double Oppression: Violence against Disabled Women, A resource pack for practitioners, pg.13
http://www.niaendingviolence.org.uk/perch/resources/double-oppression-violence-against-disabled-
women.pdf

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Women with disabilities become victims more rarely than other women;

This is not the exhaustive list of the myths and they cannot be generalized on Georgia's
reality. They spot the common ("universal") vision, that is more or less established in
every society. Unlike myths created by women with disabilities themselves, the above-
mentioned myths are in fact barriers for the law enforcement officers, which hinders
them to protect women victim with disabilities effectively. Therefore, it is necessary to
revise the existing attitudes in the system itself, which will increase the quality of
professional activity of law enforcement personnel and will make it possible to provide
effective protection for victims of violence.

VII. Conclusion

To conclude, based on the several above presented sources women with disabilities face
large number of barriers, which either excludes their full and equal access to the right
of justice, or provides it in lower standards. These barriers are mostly systemic, policy
and referral, communication, mental obstacles, though the list does not completely
contain the wide range of difficulties of persons with disabilities.

Based on the present analysis it is clear that inaccessibility of physical environment, the
low level of public awareness about rights of persons with disabilities, the lack of
properly trained law enforcement and other professional specialists is directly related to
the ineffectiveness of combating crime. The lack of statistical data, and appropriate
programs and services, unfit preventive measures and other challenges makes the
justice system inaccessible for the majority of women.

It is essential to analyze the basic issues provided in the guideline and thus to arrange
in-depth surveys, which will help an interested party to understand the problem and
implement conceptual changes. This, on the one hand, will promote the destruction of
the existing barriers and on the other hand, will increase the quality of the work of
specialists from various fields that will increase the effectiveness investigations of the
crimes against women with disabilities.

All these activities will result to have positive impact on the protection of fundamental
rights of women with disabilities and will create real guarantees of accessing justice.

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VIII. The main principles and recommendations for working

Effective work of investigative systems is a strong guarantee of the availability of justice


(in broad sense) for women with disabilities. This is a result of consideration and
practical use of basic conceptions and at the same time being realistic while assessing
the existing services in the country.

Among the measures taken to eliminate violence against women is particularly


important and necessary to recognize the following unambiguous and binding
principles:

To strengthen and support the victim;


To take the victim's narration as a fact, on which should start investigation and
ensure the safety of the victim;
To consider choices of the victim properly while deliveing the service;
Holistic and multidisciplinary approach that includes involvement of not only
the law enforcement agencies and/or social workers, but also professionals who
can assist victims in situation management (psychiatrist, psychologist,
occupational therapist, etc.);
Revision of legal regulations based on human rights oriented, modern visions;
Diversity of services and planning their inclusive aspects;
Ignoring the myths in the working process and prevention of all potential
mental barriers, especially in professional workers, etc.

The barriers described in the document, force women with disabilities to stay in a
violent environment and they make the violence invisible for the third party. The
reform should aim to overcome these barriers in order to identify victims of violence
and ensure their survival.

The most obvious and difficult obstacle for women with disabilities is caused by
barriers, that makes it physically impossible to escape the violence. The physical
barriers are tangible, it can be seen and perceived therefore, they are e easier to
overcome unlike other types of difficulties, such as mental, verbal and referral barriers.

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First of all, within the framework of state reform should be developed security plan. A
woman with disabilities, who may be a victim of violence, should have full and detailed
information on the means of security. The existence of temporary centers for avoiding
an immediate danger as well as shelters, where victims can be placed for a longer period
of time is crucial; They will be physically accessible for anyone, and will meet the needs
of the victims of any social group.

Campaigns for overcoming mental barriers that target groups of women victim as well
as law enforcement officials are very important. Therefore, intensive training courses
for the latter are necessary for their qualification enhancement. At the same time,
persons and organizations responsible for providing public services should permanently
hold information meetings with women with disabilities, in order to provide
comprehensive information about public services and their security. Demolishing
mental barriers results increase of crime report, that is the base of enhancing the quality
of investigation and service facilities.

It is vital that women victim with disabilities are offered complete and high quality
services by the state. Diversity of the services, reliability and stability are particularly
important for the women with disabilities who were victims of their only caregivers. In
this case, women have no choice; she is limited, as escaping from the violent
environment does not mean a better environment, public service does not guarantee it.
On the contrary, women's living conditions could worsen as a result and she may be
institutionalized forever, while she has the opportunity to live independently, as a
member of society.

For the law enforcement agencies, it is crucially importance to define the actions that
has to be taken when the victim is a woman with disabilities. The view that regulations
that exist in the country for violence against women in general can be used in cases of
any victim is not correct. Each social group needs an individualized legal mechanism.
For example, if a police officer does not have relevant information and is not equipped
with victim oriented protection facilities, they will not be able to serve the victims
special needs effectively.

Many countries use the method of employing people with disabilities, which makes it
faster to identify possible barriers for them and use/look for realistic methods of
solution. It is also a common practice to involve special departments or specialized

25
police officers/prosecutors in the activity of law enforcement authorities and
institutions.

26
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