By Anino Aganbi
WOMEN with disabilities are more prone to being victims of Gender Based Violence. This claim was made by Executive Director of Project Alert, Josephine Chukwuma, who recently made it known that Project Alert will be sensitizing different stakeholders in the society thereby increasing awareness on gender based violence and women with disabilities in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Josephine Chukwuma who urged stakeholders to sit up and stop gender based violence against women and girl child, especially those living with disabilities states said, gender based violence and women with disability, is one area that has been going on for long, yet remains largely unreported and shrouded in silence and secrecy.
To address this issue, Project Alert on Violence Against Women with support from CBM and Disability Right Advocacy Centre commenced a project titled: Networking to stop violence against women and young girls with disability. This is aimed at creating awareness on the various forms of violence, discrimination and exclusion that women with disabilities are subjected to.
A lot of these women were not disabled at birth, some became disabled through accidents, and others through medical negligence. The truth still remains that there is nobody who can say it does not concern me because it can happen to anybody. It could even be brought on by old age.
“Women who have one form of disability or the other are more susceptible to rape and other forms of abuse than a woman who has all her facilities intact. Their disabilities make them easy targets and they do not see rape as a form of violence because the society has made them believe nobody will want them with their disabilities. We tend to forget that these women have emotions and sexual urges just like every other woman.
“The onus lies on the society, government, traditional rulers, religious rulers to disabuse members of the society, churches, mosques, communities of the notion that a woman is the dredge of the society just because she has a disability,” she said.
Chukwumah also encouraged traditional rulers and governmental agencies to create trainings and jobs for women with disabilities, provide good schools and make them feel useful in our society, and help make basic amenities accessible to them.”
Alejo Adegboyega, Director, Social Development and Integration, Lasoda says “ Lagos state is doing a lot in ensuring that people living with disability in Lagos are not excluded as the Governor has their welfare at heart. Lagos state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode passed out a mandate that over 500 disabled people be employed and the state has began to make that mandate a reality.”
Adegboyega also said, “Lagos State is doing what it can in ensuring that people living with disabilities are put into consideration while the state puts basic infrastructures in place with you in mind. Anybody living with disability who is not registered under the Lagos State government should please do so as it is only when you register that you are entitled to get free medical care, free rides with the blue Lagos transport buses among others.”
Mrs. Adedoyin Beyioku Alase, chairperson, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Lagos chapter and national president, Deaf Women Association of Nigeria said, “I did not pray to be deaf and I was not born deaf but a medical mistake caused me my hearing. At some point I almost took my life. I can not change anything about who I am now, so I live my life the best way I can. I am a hard worker, I have never begged in my life and I will never beg. I can talk very well but I just cannot hear you.
“All I need to be able to communicate effectively is a translator. I will appeal to the government and traditional rulers to put this into consideration because you may have people living with disabilities in your communities. Instead of making us feel redundant, please empower us with skills acquisition that will enable us cater for our families. Traditional rulers should send people to learn the sign language so they can communicate effectively with people who are deaf living within their communities.”
Present at the event were women who live with different disabilities and traditional rulers from nine different local governments in Lagos State.