Gender-based and sexual violence: Disability, this violence that we cannot see

Gender-based and sexual violence: Disability, this violence that we cannot see
Gender-based and sexual violence: Disability, this violence that we cannot see

A woman dials the “Listen to violence against disabled women” line. She is almost 40 years old. Her father, with whom she lives and on whom she is dependent, has been violent towards her since childhood. Talking about it terrifies her. Chantal Rialin, president of the Women to Say, Women to Act (FDFA) association, on which the telephone line depends, opens a form for her follow-up, listens to her, advises her. The association created in 2015 the first permanence listening service for disabled women who are victims of violence and supports just over 200 women per year.

These women are faced with difficulty to say and access the procedures. Chantal Rialin explains: “Last week, a woman who was attacked in the street wanted to file a complaint. He was asked to describe his attacker whileShe was blind! » Concerning access to the rights of disabled people, France is very, very, very late,” confirms Shirley Tong On, vice-president of the Deaf Citizen and Solidarity association.

As victims with disabilities, we ourselves may struggle to recognize ourselves as victims.

C. Extenso

During confinement, 3919, the emergency number for women victims of violence, created in 1992, was not yet available. accessible in French sign language (LSF). The association therefore opened a “listening hotline” via Skype, then a physical hotline in Paris, both in LSF. “Enough to allow women to obtain information on their rights while awareness campaigns are not accessible to them”, specifies Morgane, volunteer with Deaf Citizen and Solidarity Women.

“Especially since a large part of the deaf community is illiterate”, recalls Shirley Tong On. One of the problems concerning the management of violence is the lack of qualified interpreters and the price of their performance. “We spent the week looking for an interpreter in the south of France for a hearing with a view toa protection ordera woman whose ex-partner threatened to kill her. »

“Who would want to rape disabled people? »

For Céline Extenso, co-founder of the feminist and anti-validist collective Les Dévalideuses, “the system ensures that violence is silenced and silenced at all levels. If we have the opportunity to speak,social unthinking about this violence will cast doubt on the veracity of whatwe lived and led us to stop testifying». Especially since “we, as disabled victims, can ourselves have difficulty recognizing ourselves as victims, because we are imbued with this discourse which always presents those around us as good and generous”.

Lili Guigueno, disabled activist for the abolition of institutions and psychiatry, agrees: “Gender-based and sexual violence against people with disabilities canmuch more likely to reproducethey are dimmediately classified in the register of the unthinkable. This negation can be summed up in a rhetorical question: “Who could want to rape disabled people?”, as stheyacted therea radical impossibility. »




On the same subject : “People with disabilities are knowingly excluded”

An “impossibility” which results in late figures to describe the extent of this violence in France, often euphemized under the term “mistreatment”. The 2019 senatorial report entitled “Violence, women and disability: denouncing the invisible and taking action” pointed the finger “the absence of precise statistics on a subject that is still taboo”, the studies then available being international. Like that of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, which estimated in 2014 that 34% of disabled women had suffered physical or sexual violence from their partner, compared to 19% of able-bodied women.

In 2020, a Drees study showed that in France the proportion of disabled women who were victims of sexual violence in the two years preceding the survey was twice as high as that of able-bodied women.

Three times more risk for children with disabilities

“Battle” so that the disability, “in every place, be a subject”. This is what Marie Rabatel, president of the French-speaking Association of Autistic Women (Affa), did for three years within the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children (Ciivise). The ambition of the commission, created in 2021, was significant: in the short term, create a unique space of expression, support and guidance for people who have suffered sexual violence in childhood and, in the medium term, make public policy recommendations. But, of the 30,000 testimonies collected between 2021 and 2023, “only 153 concerned disabled victims at the time of the events”, she laments.

“It is essential to recognize thetotal anomaly of these figures in view of the known and proven over-representation of situations of violence in this group”wrote Marie Rabatel in a column published on March 5 in Release. According to a study by the World Health Organization, cited in the Ciivise report, children with disabilities are almost 3 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence, this figure rising to 4.6 for children with a disability. intellectual disability.




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An “anomaly” linked in part to the way of collecting testimonies: “With an inaccessible telephone line, public meetings without an LSF interpreter, no subtitling for deaf or hard of hearing people, continues Marie Rabatel. And these meetings took place in the evening, when residents of institutions cannot go out. » For her, the focus on incest evaded the question of violence suffered by disabled children placed in institutions, that is to say in medico-social structures. Asrecalled theUN, France must deinstitutionalize. When there is segregation, it forms closed doors, which is a factor in violence. »

A possible #MeToo in an institution?

Lotis, a member of the Collective for Reflection on Incest and Systemic Abuse (Crims), says he had a hard time reading the Ciivise report, a chapter of which is devoted to disability. Based on the figures from the procedures in which the attackers were able to be identified, we read in particular that“it is likely that the attackers are dother children with disabilities ».

Gold ” the problem, according to Lotis, vsthat ishethere is no #MeToo on sexual violence in institutions». She continues: “The Ciivise reading grid on disability maintains themoral order justifying placing disabled people in specific institutions from childhood and for their entire lives. » In 2019, a Senate commission on child victims of violence in institutions looked at disabled children placed within them. Two of the three main associations managing establishments and services for disabled minors had not not answered upon request for hearing. An example illustrating the“omerta” which reigns in institutions, according to Chantal Rialin.




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While none of the 82 recommendations in the Ciivise’s final report are specific to disability, Marie Rabatel continues her work within the new commission, in a working group working on the development of new recommendations For “disabled children everywhere”. For example, “review the Creton amendment, which currently allows disabled adults waiting for a place in adult structures to remain in those where the children are». Marie Rabatel intends above all to promote “the adoption of devices that make it easier for disabled children to listen, particularly those who have difficulty accessing speech. And improve the judicial treatment of this speech”.

Freedom of speech

One of these tools, improved or augmented alternative communication (AAC), allowed, at the end of 2023, a non-oral child to reveal the rape committed by his educator within the Lecourbe medical-educational institute, in the 15e district of Paris, showing the “tongue” and “buttock” pictograms. After these revelations, ten other children, beginners in AAC, revealed rapes and assaults. “The word must be freed in institutions”, believes Céline Poulet, secretary general of the interministerial committee on disability. She explains that, since the 2019 Grenelle on violence against women, disability has been integrated into public policies. There generalization of the Handigynéco system, for example, consists of bringing midwives, capable of detecting violence, into establishments.

Ultimately achieve the abolition of institutionalization in all its forms, as violence in itself.

L. Guigueno

” The goalexplains Céline Poulet, is to develop a “sexual violence” reflex within institutions” and better control institutions. For the government, the fight against violence also involves “the right to intimate and sexual life” disabled people and ” Linformation about their rights ». For Lili Guigueno, “if the fight against violence committed in institutions was really taken seriously, it would be fully linked to the process of deinstitutionalization which must be carried out and ultimately lead toabolition of theinstitutionalization in all its forms, as violence in itself”. An abolition which is not one of the government’s priorities.

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