Women with disabilities are more likely to face violence than both women without disabilities, and men with disabilities. Yet, their voices are unheard, their experiences hushed and made invisible.
We at Rising Flame have been working since 2017 to spotlight the experiences of women and girls with disabilities and to end the silence and then the violence. This campaign takes our efforts many steps forward. the campaign has a threefold objective
Visiblise | Recognise | Safeguard
Our focus is to erase the invisibility, bring together the experiences, help stakeholders recognise the violence and barriers faced and build systems that ensure a safe and dignified environment for women with disabilities at home, in workplaces and in public spaces.
We do this through the following four steps:
Our social media through the 16 days is working on creating awareness on different forms of violence faced by women with disabilities. Their accounts, their narratives, the barriers they face and urgent need for us to recognise these. Follow this on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
On the Wikipedia page on violence against people with disabilities, there was no mention of the violence faced by women with disabilities. Same for the violence against women page on Wikipedia. This is resonant of experiences of women with disabilities - they fall through the cracks in both movements. Through our Edit-a-thon on November 25th with 8 disabled people, we edited the Wikipedia page on Violence Against People With Disabilities to spotlight the violence faced by disabled women.
Globally, we haven't heard many women with disabilities accounts as part of the #MeToo movement. To fill this gap, we bring to you articles by women with disabilities about the sexual harassment they have faced within the disability community. From December 3, we have women across 5 countries say #MeToo.
Nidhi Goyal writes: Open secrets no more: Moving from the shadows to the centre.
Silvia Quan writes: Sisters, you are not alone: Speaking up on harassment.
Maria Zia writes: My silence is not my passivity.
Anonymous, India writes: It wasn't a bad dream I could forget.
Shivangi Agrawal, writes: The Stalker Walker.
Anonymous, Colombia writes: He took away my voice.
Lizzie Kiama writes: Not Here For Optics; We Have a Voice
Our campaign objective is to go beyond visiblising. Our webinars help us tie all of the above together.
Through our first webinar organised on Dec 7: Sexual Harassment and the #MeToo Movement: Women with Disabilities End the Silence, we spotlighted the narratives of women with disabilities, focused on the sexual harassment experienced by them, the difficulties they face in speaking up and the legal frameworks available. Three eminent speakers joined in as panelists - Vrinda Grover, Amba Salelkar, and Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee- all lawyers, researchers and human rights professionals , along with our very own founder and executive director Nidhi Goyal as the moderator. The experts on the webinar also highlighted how we can build systems and safeguards to ensure a safe and dignified environment for women with disabilities within work spaces. [Watch the full webinar here]
On Dec 8, we organised another webinar: The shadow pandemic: Women with disabilities and domestic violence. Four feisty disability rights activists from all across the world joined in as panelists and participated in a very engaging discussion from multiple perspectives, led by the moderator - Nidhi Goyal. They highlighted the ways in which the COVID 19 pandemic has led to an increase in the incidence of domestic violence, and how women with disabilities despite being the most vulnerable, are the least heard of on the matter. They also discussed the importance of raising voices against this violence from within the movement and the community. [Watch the full webinar here]
We will continue to deepen the conversations on these two forms of violence and understand the barriers and the solutions to safeguard rights of women with disabilities through our work.