DISABLED WOMEN CHIEF AMONG VICTIMS OF ABUSE BUT NOT REPORTING CRIMES
By Jenique Belgrave
Women with disabilities are experiencing high levels of abuse of all kinds, says President of Barbados Professional Women’s Association Marlene Hewitt.
However, she said, many are not reporting the abuse.
Speaking on the topic Violence: Women, Children and LGBTI in Barbados during a panel discussion on the second day of the University of the West Indies’ Crime Prevention Symposium at the Sagicor School of Business on Friday, Hewitt said those women were among the main victims of domestic violence, family violence, and intimate partner violence.
“And that’s because they depend on others most of the time. The person who’s taking care of them – maybe they are part of the family or just a partner – they have the capacity to outmanoeuvre that woman.
“So they have the control and the woman thinks that maybe the [social] agencies are not going to listen to her. She’s disabled, maybe she has trouble with communicating, maybe sometimes she can’t even get out of the house, [or has] transport issues. So these are the challenges that women with disabilities are facing and they are not going to report any abuse because there are lots of barriers,” said Hewitt who outlined the experiences of people seeking refuge at the association’s shelter for abused women.
She said the situation was often compounded by the fact that some people did not know that the abuse was a crime or where to seek help.
Highlighting that two of the areas that predispose women to domestic violence are low education and low incomes, Hewitt said these lead to dependency on the abusive partner, especially when children are involved.
“So they were wondering how am I going to support myself, how am I going to support my children? And you tend to stay in the relationship even as the abuse starts to ramp up because you think there’s nowhere to go. I can’t rent a place, I can’t support them and definitely I may become homeless. And I think that’s the worst for women, especially if they have children,” she said.