By Alois Vinga
DEAF Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) has bemoaned increasing cases of violence against disabled women in the country and has urged government to finalise policies that will help bring such acts to an end.
Speaking over issues affecting women with disabilities in line with the just ended 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, DZT director, Barbara Nyangairi described the nature of violence affecting disabled women as multiplied when compared to the same misfortunes that befall their abled bodied counterparts.
“For women and girls with disability, gender based violence (GBV) is frequently combined with disability discrimination as these women are often perceived as being weak, lazy and, insome societies, sub-human.
“This only heightens their vulnerability, exposure and risk to GBV.
“The low position that women occupy insociety, especially women with disabilities, diminishes their chances of pursuing an education, inevitably, depriving them of opportunities to make professional choices later in their lives,” she said.
She observed that there is a close relationship between poverty, disability and social exclusion of persons with disabilities which intensifies their hardship, especially for women and girls with disabilities.
“These situations make women with disabilities entirely dependent on their family members. In instances where women with disabilities are able to create their own employment, they are usually excluded from participating in economic decision-making processes or from accessing property and resources,” she said.
Nyangairi however underscored thatincreased educational attainment by disabled women will improve their situation because it is the only gateway for decent employment and economic empowerment.
“It is therefore necessary for Zimbabweto create an inclusive education policy from basic to higher education to allow the disabled to access education.
“The Disability Act needs to be aligned to the constitution and the disability policy has to be finalised and used to improve the lives of persons living with disability,” she said.
DZT was formed and registered as a trust in 2012 and began operations in 2013.
Initially, the organisation was formed to advance the rights of deaf children.
After wide consultation, the leadership of DZT realised that deaf adults had a lot of challenges and very little was being done to help them achieve their potential.
As a result of this realisation, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust reconfigured its activities to include all the Deaf in Zimbabwe.