From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Women living With Disabilities (WWDs) in Lagos State suffer multiple victimizations from their spouses, relatives, healthcare providers and acquaintances in Lagos State. A doctoral research from the Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, has revealed.
The revelation came to the fore in a thesis, entitled: ‘Victimisation Experiences and Coping Strategies of Women With Disabilities in Lagos State’, written by Dr Muhammed Faisol Olaitan, and supervised by a renowned criminologist, Dr Oludayo Tade.
Olaitan, in the thesis, interviewed women living with disabilities that have experienced victimisation, heads of disable people organisations (DPOs), and lawyers among others. He reported that the victimisation starts from the social construction of women living with disabilities as evil, asexual, useless and intellectually deficient.
He recommended that a way to save WWDs would be for government and non-state actors in Lagos State to effectively implement and enforce extant disability laws to mitigate victimisation of women with disabilities in the state.
The thesis found that “negative social constructions by families, spouse and others were influenced by cultural and religious beliefs about disability and led to multiple victimisations with harmful consequences on the life chances of the WWDs.”
According to Olaitan, women living with disabilities experience sexual assaults, beating, poisoning, stigmatisation, denial of medication, intimidation and deprivation perpetrated by spouses, relatives, and acquaintances.
His words: “People living With Disabilities, especially women suffer multiple victimisations. This is worsened by cultural beliefs, diseases, poverty and violent attacks. The Lagos State office of Disability Affairs (LASODA) is the major state actor, performing regulatory and intervention roles on WWDs victimisation.
“Non-state actors such as the DPOs investigate and prosecute victimisers and organise seminars to improve the lives of WWDs. However, these interventions have not curbed victimisation due to challenges of implementing disability laws, unavailability of well trained personnel and data on WWDs.”
Olaitan’s stated that some parents would lock up their children, living with disabilities in a room for up to a year because they thought they constituted nuisance and embarrassment to the family.
“In this study, a lady of about 35 years told me how wrong medication by a quack doctor led to her visual impairment. Her father complained and nagged about it. She is now a graduate but she said the parents are mounting pressure on her because she has not got someone to marry her. They went as far as locking her up in a room for about a year despite wanting her to get someone to marry.
“She said that the victimisation experiences from outsiders cannot be compared with the one they face among family members. And cases like this contribute to their lack of confidence, and inferiority complex for women living with disabilities.”