There are beliefs of stereotyping women with disabilities that they are not sexually attractive, it is so sad that even such beliefs extend to the medical sector, in common cases we find that the reproductive health information and services are offered and women with disabilities are excluded. The maternal beds and in general health facilities are not friendly for women with disabilities. When a woman with disability goes to a medical examination room the doctor looks at the disability as the cause of her sickness instead of treating her sickness, in some cases, when a woman with a disability tests HIV positive people will react in shock and some may even get the guts of asking how can a disabled woman engage in sexual intercourse and how can a disabled woman can have sexual feelings.
It is high time the society should learn that the disability of these women does not affect their womanhood. In some cases, where disabled women need to use public transport, they need help to get in and out of the vehicle, in some cases, they are handled so inappropriately especially when the person helping in carrying them is a man, and it happens to end up in a cruel way when a woman with a disability is sarcastically told that they seem to be enjoying when they are touched by men.
The rape cases against women with disabilities are a daily occurrence to many woman whose disabilities make them not able to defend themselves or even to be unable to get to a place where they can report, this happens because of lack of knowledge of where to report and also lack of proper mobility to get there. There is also fear that if the women with disabilities report rape against them, then there is a possibility of something worse happening to them. Some organizations that deal or rather address cases of rape claim that it is a challenge to address rape against women with disabilities due to lack of data that will separate rape against disabled women from among the rest of the women population.
This in the long run makes rape against women with disabilities to be less or not acknowledged at all, the stereotypes that the society has, the ostracism against women with disabilities, the negative attitudes, the negative cultural beliefs and practices make women with disabilities to belong to the status of being invisible and their voice is in deed missing in the society. This, at the end, will expose women with disabilities to more violence leaving very narrow opportunities of recourse.
There exist numerous cases of Social Stigma and Inadequate Services that women with disabilities go through. The society perceives disabled women as a sign of bad omen and they even go further to see them as not worthy enough to be wives or even mothers. In most cases, you may find that the men who cohabit or have relationships with disabled women will come home late when it is already dark and leave early in the morning when it is still dark so that they are not be seen with their disabled female partners.
Disabled women are not allowed to inherit property in some cultures, this therefore extends the aspect of poverty, destitution and economical dis-empowerment among women with disabilities. Some marriages have ended due to the woman bearing a disabled child. At some point we find that even if cases of sexual violence against women with disabilities would be recognized, we still have a question of whether the existing information and services will accommodate women with disabilities fully as the rest of the women population. The services that are available have a lot of obstacles that do not favour women with disabilities. The building facilities, the medical officers without knowledge on disability related needs, lack of resources and trainings to meet the needs of women with disabilities, the communication barriers are just a few of the challenges that women with disabilities experience when they seek help after being sexually assaulted.
At the same time, when there is need to take the assault cases to a legal level, the women with disabilities may not be able to afford the legal fee because in most cases disability is related to poverty. And also the legal field may find that there is no very clear laws that guide issues relating to handling of cases that affect women with disabilities thus making the disabled women to become victims of more violence daily.
The constitution is not clear on how to handle the cases of abuse of women with disabilities and on the other hand the disability Act does not play the exact role that it was intended for, though the Act calls for the fact that disabled persons are entitled to education, employment and taking part in sports, recreational and even cultural activities, the rights of women with disabilities are still being highly violated.
Though Kenya ratified the international laws on disability, the implementation of the laws is missing, this therefore calls for a serious address of rights of persons with disabilities both in the legal aspect as well as in the aspect of human rights.
It is high time the government created disability agencies, the Disabled Persons Organizations, disability activists should go national if not international and the human rights watch dogs should also call for the realization and upholding of the rights of women with disabilities and finally the government to put disability on the national agenda. In general, persons with disabilities still have so many questions that remain un-answered, these include but are not limited to; poor access to public toilets, poor access to public transport, poor access to delivery beds, poor access to service delivery tables and counters, poor access to health care, poor access to public buildings, poor access to information, poor access to education, poor access to jobs and economic empowerment, poor access to assistive devices…. “SO WHERE ARE OUR RIGHTS?”