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close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderChapter 9: Women with Disabilities
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSelf-esteem
Open this folder and view contentsTaking Care of Your Health
Open this folder and view contentsSexuality and Sexual Health
View the documentPersonal Safety
View the documentWorking for Change

Personal Safety

Since a woman with a disability may be less able to protect herself, she is more at risk for violent attack and abuse than a woman without a disability. But there are things a woman can do to defend herself. It may help to practice some of these things with a group of women with disabilities:

· If you are in a public place and someone tries to hurt or abuse you, shout as loudly as you can.

· Do something he might find disgusting, such as drooling spit (saliva), or trying to vomit, or acting as though you are ‘crazy’.

· Use your stick, crutches or wheelchair to hit or try to hurt the person.

· If the abusive person is someone in your family, try to talk about it with another family member you trust. It may also help to talk about it privately with a group of women with disabilities.



Special care for women who have mental disabilities

Women and girls who have problems with understanding or learning (mental disabilities) may need special care, as it can be even more difficult for them to defend themselves.

If there is a girl or woman in your family with these problems, it is important to talk openly with her about abusive or harmful people. Talk about when it is OK for someone to touch another person in a sexual way and when it is not, and about what is safe and unsafe in public and private situations. Let her know it is OK to tell you if anything she does not like happens to her Help her learn how to say “No.” Teach her how to defend herself.

It is also a good idea to talk with persons with mental disabilities about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy, and to give them what they need to protect themselves. But be careful not to treat girls and women with mental disabilities like prisoners. When it is safe, let them go outside, or to the market, or to work in the fields.