Women with disabilities are at a significant risk of severe forms of violence. They experience violence at significantly higher rates, more frequently, for longer, in more ways, and by more perpetrators; they have considerably fewer pathways to safety, and are less likely to report experiences of violence. However, programs and services to help these victims of violence to overcome their traumatic experiences either do not exist or are extremely limited.
Since many women with intellectual disabilities are still living in long-stay residential institutions across the European Union Member States, hundreds of thousands of European women are at a very high risk of different forms of violence in such places. Some of these forms of violence are common to all women, while some are specific for the institutional settings they live in. For example, women in institutions are often systematically deprived of their right to found a family and become mothers, for example by being exposed to involuntary contraception or sterilisation.
In order to drive global and European policies for full realisation of human rights of women with intellectual disabilities to live in the community on an equal basis with others, a more focused research has been started now by Inclusion Europe. Funded by the Open Society Foundation, this research will enable for findings which then will be fed into and drive policies in Europe and beyond. In order to properly support women who have once been victims of violence in institutional settings, it is necessary to understand the specific forms of violence they were subject to, and the specific need for support for the full realisation of their rights once they live included in the community. Accepting that deinstitutionalisaiton is not only about buildings, but about services, it is necessary to enable them to profit from their freedom fully and this is what the present project is intending to achieve.
About the launch of the report in the European Parliament: “My biggest fear is that I will be put back into an institution”
The Life after violence project is supported by the Open Society Foundations.