Several rights protect the safety and integrity of persons with deafblindness, including:
There was a lack of literature in the literature review on violence, exploitation, and abuse of persons with deafblindness, and the quantitative research did not show significant findings on the supervision of children with deafblindness. This was largely because of the way that the quantitative data was captured (e.g., by asking caregivers) which results in underreporting. However, even if there is underreporting of incidents of violence, this does not mean that violence is not happening.
The field experiences of WFDB and Sense International are that persons with deafblindness are at increased risk of violence, including forced sterilisation, gender-based violence, bullying and harassment, sexual violence, emotional violence and neglect, and physical violence in the home, at work, in institutions and residential facilities, and in the community. Data on children with disabilities show that they are three to four times as likely to be survivors of violence than children without disabilities[ii], and women with disabilities experience up to ten times more violence than women without disabilities[iii]. There is little data on violence against persons with deafblindness. However, this data on persons with disabilities, in general, demonstrates the pervasive nature of violence and the risks to persons with deafblindness, as a highly marginalised group within the wider group of persons with disabilities.
Some of the key risk factors affecting persons with deafblindness include:
Though there is increasing awareness of violence against persons with disabilities, there is little attention to the deafblindness-specific risk factors and little awareness raising within deafblind communities across all countries.
[i] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, A/RES/61/106, 13 December 2006, Articles 15, 16, and 17.
[ii] UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2013 – Violence against Children with Disabilities, https://www.un-ilibrary.org/content/books/9789210597593, p. 11-29.
[iii] UNFPA, Young Persons with Disabilities: Global Study on Ending Gender-Based Violence, and Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Final_Global_Study_English_3_Oct.pdf, 2018.
[iv] Sense International Uganda, The Economic Impact of Caring for a Child with Deafblindness / Multi-Sensory Impairment, November 2019, p. 58; World Federation of the Deafblind, At risk of exclusion from CRPD and SDG implementation: Inequality and Persons with Deafblindness, https://wfdb.eu/wfdb-report-2018/, September 2018, p. 35, 41, and 43-46.
To understand the prevalence and nature of violence against persons with deafblindness, more targeted quantitative and qualitative research is needed. Research that is conducted on violence against persons with disabilities should include persons with deafblindness to ensure that they are not excluded from the research. This may require time-consuming and costlier steps to identify persons with deafblindness and to overcome the communication barriers and stigma of discussing violence. However, working with OPDs of persons with deafblindness, service providers, and parents’ groups can help identify persons with deafblindness in the community that have experienced violence. In some instances, persons with deafblindness may require sensitisation on what constitutes violence, depending on their communication abilities and existing understanding of violence.
Research on violence should consider the programmatic interventions to prevent and respond to situations of violence once identified as part of the research programme. Some elements for preventing and responding to violence against persons with deafblindness include:
[i] Sense International Uganda, The Economic Impact of Caring for a Child with Deafblindness / Multi-Sensory Impairment, November 2019, p. 58; World Bank, Five facts to know about violence against women and girls with disabilities, https://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/five-facts-know-about-violence-against-women-and-girls-disabilities, 5 December 2019.
OPDs and NGOs
Donors and Research Institutes