Some of us went to the Million Women Rise march in London this year under the Sisters of Frida’s banner.
The Million Women Rise (MWR) Coalition is a diverse group of individual women and women representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector who are united by our outrage at the continued daily, hourly, minute-by-minute individual and institutionalised male violence enacted against women worldwide. We believe that every woman and child has a right to live free from violence and that ongoing violence devastates not only the lives of the individuals directly affected but also the communities of which they are part. We have come together to organise a national demonstration against violence against women.
We joined loads of other wonderful women, chanting, shouting, singing, drumming, feeling empowered together. We marched down to Trafalgar Sq – the theme this year was focused on the girl child and we were honoured by 13 year old Mary Jane being with us.
We also met Pauline, a friend who was also at the 2010 MWR march where Eleanor and Michelle spoke at Trafalgar Sq.
Eleanor and Michelle speaking at MWR 2010, things have not improved much for disabled women under this coalition government with their cuts which affect disabled and women. (transcript below*)
Happy International women’s day, sisters on 8th March this year!
*Breaking the silence of Disabled Women
Fiona Pilkington caught the headlines when she killed herself and her disabled daughter by setting fire to their car – she had been unable to get help against constant abuse and intimidation from local youths but there are many, many disabled women who are abused, violated and within their own homes. We want you to hear some of those voices from a recent report on Disabled women and domestic violence.
“Oh yes, he would drag me along the floor because I couldn’t walk or get away that was how it would start, the way it always went. He’d insult me with all those names, ‘you spassy’ and so on, ‘who’d want to marry you?’
And he smashed me against the wall, shouting insults, you cripple, all that sort of thing.”
“Because I can’t feed myself and he would go out in the evenings deliberately and I wouldn’t have eaten anything for a twenty-four hour period or more. So that wouldn’t have happened to anybody that could feed themselves.”
In the evenings I’d be exhausted. And being deaf is hard work you know, you have to concentrate so much harder and it’s tiring. And he’d be furious and slap me and kick me awake. And he used to like: ‘Don’t you fall asleep on me, I want a wife, a real wife not an old woman’. And you know it was sex all the time, twice a day and he would shout at me and then hold me down and I hated it, I hated it.”
You know refuge provision is scarce, and accessible refuge provision is almost non existent and many women believed they could not be accommodated according to their needs.
Disabled women are also more vulnerable to sexual assaults in places such as care homes and by their carers. James Watts, sexually assaulted four disabled women at the care home where he worked as a mini bus driver. He was found guilty after one of his victims testified by blinking yes or no to questions from the police.
Disabled women continue (even as we speak) to experience physical, mental and sexual abuse. The sad reality is, our voices continue to go unheard by those key services that are set up to assist and support women in vulnerable positions.
Sisters, in order for you to really appreciate the seriousness of our situations experienced by disabled women you must recognise and understand the barriers we experience which can worsen the problems.
For this reason it can be difficult for us to report our abuser or even challenge them especially if we are dependent on them for support. What worries us is that many disabled women are forced to continue to experience brutality and suffering from their abuser. This is a sad and worrying reality!
Also, we must not forget about the experiences of disabled women with multiple identities. For many of us we continue to experience multiple discrimination from within the disability movement, other women, community and society.
Being here today for both of us (Eleanor and myself) is about raising the voices of our disabled sisters. It is also about ensuring our recognition within this struggle for human rights. We close by saying that we all have a responsibility to ensure disabled women are recognised and respected as equals within this struggle for all of our voices to be heard – “we are women too!”.