“To ensure that no one is left behind, society should confront the attitudes that contribute to the prevalence of gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities in Oyo State and nurture a culture of respect and equality.“
The above assertion was made by Folarin Iyanuoluwa Veronica, an advocate of Gender and Disability-Based Violence (GDBV), during her community engagements with the media community. Veronica charged the media community with mainstreaming issues of GDBV to garner the needed attention and action from relevant authorities.
“I implore all media outlets to, in the spirit of humanity, amplify awareness and sensitization messages to the general public, as this is crucial to breaking the silence and promoting change. By educating the public about the challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities, we can dispel stereotypes, reduce prejudices, and foster a more inclusive and supportive society. Public campaigns, workshops, and media initiatives can play pivotal roles in this process, encouraging people to stand up against gender- and disability-based violence.”
Veronica, in a statement shared with Inclusive News Network (INN), stated that during her community engagements, most Women and Girls with Disabilities (WGWDs) in Oyo State live in fear of not being believed when they report violations by either their partner/caregiver or their existing support systems. She also points out that many survivors lack access to support systems.
“Sometimes, survivors remain muted because they are afraid of revenge or withdrawal of assistance by their partner/caregiver, hence they prefer to wallow in silence. When it comes to health matters such as menstrual hygiene and reproductive health, they are hardly discussed openly.”
“Women with disabilities in Oyo State have little or no access to antenatal care, and they are sometimes physically and verbally abused. They are not given proper attention by some of the health workers who would question their decision to have a child, and those with children are always silent due to the fear of losing possession of their children because people may see their non-disabled spouse as a more qualified parent.”
“Although the story of women and girls with disabilities may seem too personal at first, it is important for us to note that women and girls with disabilities are more vulnerable to gender- and disability-based violence.”
Folarin Iyanuoluwa Veronica is a Fellow of the Amplifying Voices Fellowship of Oyo State. The fellowship is powered by the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) with support from the Ford Foundation to strengthen the capacities of young leaders/advocates with and without disabilities to advocate and address incidences of GDBV in their communities.