About 28 per cent of Nigerian women with disabilities have suffered sexual abuse, new research by Africa Polling Institute (API) has found.
Published on Thursday, the report said 11 per cent of men living with disabilities have also suffered some form of sexual abuse.
API, an independent research think-tank, said 64 per cent of respondents in its survey affirmed that women with disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual abuse than women without disabilities irrespective of age and educational levels.
The research was conducted with support from the Ford Foundation to monitor progress on the domestication of “the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition), Act, 2018 in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”
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Overall, the objective of the project, API said, is to ensure that state governments adopt evidence-informed policies that address the challenges of persons with disabilities (PWDs); advance a better understanding of the challenges of women with disability, particularly as it relates to gender-based violence; and help build the capacity of research officers of organisation of persons with disabilities (OPDs).
The executive director of API, Bella Ihua, said the study produced a disability inclusion and diagnostic tool for institutions in Nigeria to help track the progress made on inclusion across both private and public organisations in Nigeria.
“The tool offers a starting point for those wishing to deepen their understanding and application of disability inclusion across the scope of their work and organisation. In addition, it aims to provide guidance, clarity, a practical framework, and tools needed for basic universal and accessibility principles embedded within an organisation.”
Findings from the Action Research study revealed that the Nigerian government has not given a great deal of attention to alleviating the plights of persons with disabilities as they continue to struggle with myriads of challenges.
The Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition), Act is yet to be fully domesticated across the geopolitical zones, the report said.
“This finding suggests that the welfare of persons with disabilities has not been given utmost priority by the state government across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
“Respondents highlighted the lack of funds and lack of willingness on the part of state governors and state house of assembly members as barriers hindering the domestication of the Act across the geopolitical zones.”
Sexual and gender-based violence among PWDs
The study shows that 7 in 10 persons with disabilities surveyed (70 per cent) said that women with disabilities suffer some form of physical violence compared to men with disabilities
Also, 47 per cent of respondents affirmed that persons with hunchbacks are more susceptible to ritual killings across all geopolitical zones. This finding cuts across age categories and educational levels, API said.
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“More so, more respondents in North-East (36 per cent) than in other geopolitical zones had been sexually abused in the past.
“Lastly, persons with disabilities highlighted strangers (57 per cent), and immediate family members/relatives/friends (11 per cent) as leading perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence on PWDs.”
National disability data in Nigeria
The API findings on national disability data in Nigeria revealed that in terms of employment, persons with disabilities mostly seek help in locating appropriate jobs (32 per cent).
Also, 23 per cent of PWDs seek help in furthering their education, training, or skills. On the other hand, about 15 per cent of PWDs seek availability of assistive technology particularly in the South-south (19 per cent), followed by North-central (16 per cent) and South-west (15 per cent).
“Regarding access to assistive technology, more than 8 in 10 of PWDs who have some difficulty in seeing cannot afford to get medical glasses and at least 9 in 10 of PWDs cannot afford a hearing aid and walking or climbing equipment/assistance respectively,” API said.
It added that persons with disabilities who owned their own accommodation were more among rural residents (82 per cent) than urban residents (52 per cent). On accommodation suitability, the survey shows that 44 per cent live in unsuitable accommodation.
“Furthermore, regarding psychological abuse, at least 6 in 10 PWDs experience psychological problems particularly sexual and gender-based violence (89 per cent), violence (83 per cent), abuse (79 per cent), neglect (74 per cent), and discrimination (70 per cent).”
Lastly, the data show that PWDs are marginally excluded from society as 52 per cent of PWDs surveyed revealed that they do not have access to public institutions, another 43 per cent indicated that they do not participate in political activities and more than 3 in 10 do not participate in sporting activities.
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