Sexual abuse against women with disabilities

Sexual abuse against women with disabilities

Women with intellectual disabilities raped by her "carer" during the COVID-19 lockdown. You can read the article "Stuck in institution , raped by her “carer”" here in this link

Woman with disabilities appeals to the Constitutional Court introducing a complaint against prosecutor in Germany who did not want to investigate in a case of sexual harassment of a woman with disabilities working in a shelter workshop. The basis for not investigating was that she was “unable to give a statement”. Article here in this link in German. Translated to English below.

Closure of investigations into sexual violence against women not an isolated case
Woman with disabilities appeals to the Berlin State Constitutional Court. Women’s and disability rights organisations are supporting them in this process.
The 26-year-old Berlin resident Sonja M. (the name was changed because the complainant wishes to remain anonymous) – represented by Professor Dr. Theresia Degener and the lawyers Ronska Grimm and Lea Beckmann – today submits a constitutional complaint to the Berlin State Constitutional Court. She filed a complaint in 2020, testifying that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor in a workshop for people with disabilities. She defends herself against the fact that the Berlin public prosecutor’s office has closed the investigation against the accused because she is allegedly unable to make a statement. Her lawyers criticize serious professional deficiencies in the assessment and see the lack of appreciation of her client’s testimony and her treatment in the preliminary proceedings as structural discrimination against women with disabilities.

"My boss kept touching and kissing me, even though I said I didn’t want to. It was horrible and I still feel bad about it sometimes," explains Ms. M. "It’s just not fair that it doesn’t have consequences for him." Ms. M. is considered to have mild to moderate cognitive impairment. Throughout the investigation, there were problems in meeting their disability-specific needs. After she was able to describe the sexual assaults in detail and in detail, the public prosecutor’s office commissioned a psychological report. The expert, who did not have any disability-specific expertise, came to the conclusion that Ms. M. was "incapable of testifying" and that her testimony was therefore legally worthless. Although her lawyers pointed out obvious deficiencies in the report, the public prosecutor’s office closed the investigation against the accused.

"The public prosecutor’s office should not have based a dismissal on such an expert opinion. There is often a lack of awareness and expertise on the part of the police and prosecutors to ensure that injured disabled women have equal access to justice," said Theresia Degener, Professor of Law and Disability Studies and former member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. "It is to be feared that this is a violation of fundamental and human rights, such as the UN CRPD and the Istanbul Convention." Women with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be affected by sexual violence than the population average. At the same time, investigations are being closed at an above-average rate. This is due, among other things, to the fact that the police, public prosecutor’s office and psychologists disregard professional standards and the statements of the women concerned are therefore not adequately appreciated.

"The fact that our client is not supposed to be able to testify is already refuted by the fact that she has consistently testified several times. However, the report was also drawn up in a discriminatory manner and the task was not explained to her in a language she could understand. In addition, there are structural problems in the judicial system, such as the lack of resources to conduct interrogations in a timely manner. This case is not an isolated case. In my experience, in the case of acts to the detriment of people with disabilities, it is usually clear from the outset that, due to the design of the judiciary, the perpetrator will never be prosecuted," says lawyer Ronska Grimm.

"Lack of testimony: This means that our client was effectively deprived of rights. In order to counteract this injustice and discrimination, we decided to go to the State Constitutional Court. We are convinced that he will recognise the fundamental importance of human rights and examine the case closely," comments Lea Beckmann, lawyer and anti-discrimination expert.

The constitutional complaint is accompanied by the bff: Federal Association of Women’s Counselling Centres and Women’s Emergency Calls, the Federal Network of Women’s Lesbians and Girls with Disabilities Weibernetz e.V. and the Centre for Disability Studies (BODYS) at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Rhineland-Westphalia-Lippe.

The bff: Federal Association of Women’s Counselling Centres and Women’s Emergency Hotlines brings together more than 210 women’s emergency hotlines and women’s counselling centres, which provide the majority of outpatient counselling and assistance for female victims of violence in Germany. With the project "Suse − safe and self-determined", the bff is committed to the rights of women with disabilities affected by violence. On the platform, those affected and professionals can find help and support.

The Bochum Center for Disability Studies (BODYS) was founded in 2015 as a research institution of the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Rhineland-Westphalia-Lippe and is headed by Professor Degener. It understands Disability Studies as an inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary theoretical basis for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. .

Weibernetz e.V. is the national network of women, lesbians and girls with disabilities. All 12 state networks of disabled women are members of the nationwide self-advocacy organization. The issue of violence against women and girls with disabilities has been an important topic in the Women’s Network since it was founded in 1998.

Professor Theresia Degener and the lawyers Ronska Grimm and Lea Beckmann are available for press enquiries.

V.i.S.d.P. Jenny Kerstin Bauer, bff, Phone: 030 - 32299500

Latest video

EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

Facebook Feed

Get Involved