Category Archives: campaigning

Meeting Rashida Manjoo, UN rapporteur on Violence against

Eleanor Lisney with Rashida Manjoo

Eleanor Lisney with Rashida Manjoo

Sisters of Frida was invited by Eiman to join other Muslim women NGOs to attend  the consultative meeting and  meet with the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, at the Central Mosque in Leicester. We had prepared a pack and briefing paper with a short oral presentation.

There were about 20 different NGOs and we presented our concerns to her.

It was good to meet her and the other women, some of whom wanted to collaborate with us in the future!

Listen to Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur speak on violence against women, its causes and consequences at the public part of the first Joint Committee on Human Rights this morning at the House of Commons. (

A useful resource in connection would be the Rights of Women which have produced a number of information sheets on legal issues affecting women.


No to allowing sterilization of disabled minors in Columbia


Sisters of Frida has signed in support.

Press Release

Organizations in several countries reject decision of the Colombian Constitutional Court allowing for sterilization of minors with disabilities without their consent.
Bogota, Colombia, March 18, 2014.

On March 11th, the Colombian Constitutional Court validated the practice of surgical sterilization of minors with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities after considering a constitutional challenge to article 7 of Law 1412 of 2010, which prohibited the practice of surgical sterilization for contraceptive purposes on minors in all cases. (Decision C-133/14 – Press Release No. 08)

Although the Constitutional Court declared article 7 constitutional, it stated that “when it comes to minors with disabilities for whom there is a proven impossibility to give consent in the future to undergo sterilization procedures, the parents, or in any case, the legal guardian, must request judicial authorization to allow surgical sterilization. In that sense, previous case law has considered that a person that does not have the capacity to understand what sterilization is or its consequences, as it is the case of mental disabilities, she or he will hardly be in a place to understand the responsibility attached to the exercise of maternity or paternity and therefore, the implications of being able to or not to procreate”. The Court added: “The decision to undergo surgical sterilization ensures more dignified living conditions for those who cannot make decisions related to the exercise of their reproductive freedom and that may be exposed to forced pregnancies in detriment of their dignity and personal integrity.” Justices Luis Guillermo Guerrero and Luis Ernesto Vargas will draft concurring opinions because they consider that such interpretation goes against applicable international human rights standards.

Various national and international organizations firmly rejected the statements of the Constitutional Court. “Sterilization does not protect anybody from sexual violence and in fact it is a risk factor. With this decision the Court disregarded its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, ratified by Colombia. The Convention requires that States recognize people with disabilities’ full legal capacity to make their own decisions and that they provide the necessary supports to do so”, said Andrea Parra, Director of the Action Program for Equality and Social Inclusion (PAIIS) of the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. “The Convention specifically protects people with disabilities’ right to maintain their fertility, which historically has been controlled and denied.The Convention recognizes that all the people, regardless of their disability, have will and preferences and the State must recognize and respect them. Validating a third party signature of the consent form to the procedure is forced sterilization”, Parra added.

Organizations from Australia, Argentina, Canada, the United States, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom, as well as international organizations rejected the decision. According to the report

“Sterilization of Women and Girls with Disabilities” by the Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care, “Systemic prejudice and discrimination against women and girls with
disabilities continues to result in widespread denial of their right to experience their sexuality, to have sexual relationships, and to found and maintain families. Forced sterilization is an act of violence, a form of social control, and a violation of the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The International Federation of Gynechology and Obstretics (FIGO) in its guidelines on female sterilization states that

“Only women themselves can give ethically valid consent to their own sterilization. Family members including husbands, parents, legal guardians, medical practitioners and, for instance, government or other public officers, cannot consent on any woman’s or girl’s behalf.”

Doctor Claudia Malacrida, sociologist and professor at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, expert in eugenic practices said:

“Involuntary sterilization is not the solution for disabled people’s sexuality. Rather, education, support and opportunities to engage and learn, facilitate disabled people’s emotional, sexual and reproductive lives. Involuntary sterilization can also often have the effect of hiding the outcomes of sexual abuse; it is NOT a way of protecting disabled people from abuse or unwanted sexual contact, but in fact can make them more vulnerable”.

Stephanie Ortoleva, from international NGO Women Enabled, Inc. states:

“Forced non-consensual sterilization of women and girls with disabilities cannot be tolerated as it not only violates our core human rights, but also our physical and mental health. Empowering others to make such decisions for women and girls with disabilities is an unacceptable form of violence and control”.

Erich Kofmel from Autistic Minority International added:

“What is particularly troubling to us is the uncertain scope of the court’s decision. Many persons with so-called mental disabilities, for example those on the autism spectrum, may be falsely thought of as incapable of exercising their sexual and reproductive rights, now or in the future, and unjustly judged due to a lack of knowledge about their condition.”

The decision not only disregards the UN Disability Convention, it also ignores the recommendations made to Colombia by the Committee to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which specifically told Colombia to amend its regulatory framework to guarantee that sterilization is conducted with the free and informed consent of women with disabilities.

This and other aspects related to violations of sexual and reproductive rights of people with disabilities in Colombia will be presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human rights during the upcoming thematic hearing on the issue, which will take place on March 24th in Washington, D.C., United States.

Colombia has the international obligation to adjust its laws, judicial decisions, policies and practices to the mandates of the UN Convention on Disability and to guarantee the autonomy and legal capacity of all people with disabilities as recognized by Law 1618 of 2013.

Signatory Organizations:


Action Program for Equality and Social Inclusion (PAIIS), Universidad de los Andes
Asociación Colombiana de Síndrome de Down (ASDOWN)
Liga Colombiana de Autismo (LICA)
Fundamental Colombia
Corporación Transición es Crecer

Other countries:

ARROW – Asian Pacific Resource and Research Center for Women (Regional)
Autistic Minority International (International)
Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University (United States)
Canadian Association of the Deaf (Canada)
Eugenics and Newgenics Research Project, Universidad de Lethbridge (Canada)
Center for Reproductive Rights (International)
Centro Estratégico de Impacto Social – CEIS (Mexico)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS (Argentina)
Clínica Jurídica de Acciones de Interés Público, sección Discapacidad de la Pontificia
Universidad Católica del Peru. (Peru)
Clínica Jurídica del Programa Universitario de Derechos Humanos de la UNAM (Mexico)
Disability Rights International –DRI (International)
Documenta, análisis y acción para la justicia social a.c. (Mexico)
Impact Litigation Project, American University (United States)
International Disability Alliance (International)
International Network of Women with Disabilities (International)
Open Society Foundations (International)
Proyecto de Litigio de Alto Impacto, American University (Estados Unidos)
Respectful Interfaces (Estados Unidos)
School of Health, Policy and Management, Critical Disability Studies, York University (Canada)
Sisters of Frida (United Kingdom)
Sociedad y Discapacidad (Peru)
Women Enabled, Inc. (International)
Women’s Link Worldwide (International)
Women with Disabilities Australia (Australia)
Women with Disabilities India Network (India)

For more information contact:
Andrea Parra
Programa de Acción por la Igualdad y la Inclusión Social (PAIIS) Universidad de los Andes.

Ph: +5713394949 ext 3157 – +573136726231


Constitutional Court of Colombia – Press Release No. 08 – March 11, 2014:

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities:

Recommendations to Colombia by the CEDAW Committee, October 2013, par. 30(e):

International Federation on Gynechology and Obstetrics. Guidelines on Female Sterilization, 2011:

Campain to Stop Torture in Health Care. Briefing Paper:

Comunicado de Prensa esterilización Colombia VERSION FINAL 20140319 (Spanish version pdf)

Comunicado de Prensa esterilización Colombia VERSION FINAL 20140319(Spanish version Word doc)

Press Release Sterilization Colombia FINAL VERSION 20140319 (Word doc)
Press Release Sterilization Colombia FINAL VERSION 20140319-2 (pdf version)

With DPAC and Inclusion London Launch of the UK Disabled people’s ‘Reclaiming Our Futures’ Manifesto


Some members of Sisters of Frida went along to support the launch of UK Disabled people’s ‘Reclaiming Our Futures’ Manifesto.

You can download a copy of the manifesto from the DPAC website.

Here are some of the photos of members and friends – it was a brilliantly sunny day.

Members outside the Dept of Health with banner

Outside the Dept of Health, Michelle, Emma and Eleanor L photo taken by Julia

Emma with Julia and Eleanor F.

Michelle, Emma with Julia and Eleanor F. and Gerry

Maria N.

Maria N.

Liz C.

Liz C. with John S.

Debbie with manifesto

Debbie with manifesto

Input from Frida’s sisters convinces UN to call for UK action on disabled women


Press report from John Pring, Disability News Service, about Sisters of Frida’s involvement with CEDAW

Among its conclusions, included in a new report on the government’s performance, the CEDAW committee expressed alarm at the high rates of unemployment faced by disabled women, and at the low number of disabled and black and minority ethnic women in parliament and the judiciary.

Eleanor Lisney, SoF’s founder, said it was the first time that disabled women had “actively contributed and participated in the UK shadow report”.

Lisney and fellow SoF member Eleanor Firman travelled to Geneva for CEDAW’s examination of the UK government, with their visit funded partly by the National Union of Journalists and a London trades council.

Lisney told the CEDAW committee during a briefing that the cumulative impact of the UK government’s cuts had affected every area of disabled women’s lives.

She said she had been able to explain to the committee “the urgency and the desperation” felt by disabled women as a result of the austerity regime, and how many of them felt “shell-shocked” by the breadth and depth of the cuts, with some even killing themselves.

Lisney said she had trained and worked on disabled women’s issues around the shadow report for more than three years, work that had led to her founding SoF.

She said she was “quite proud” of SoF’s CEDAW work, and is now hoping to secure funding to collect data on the experiences of some of the hidden groups within the population of disabled women, such as those suffering domestic violence, and black and minority ethnic communities.

She said: “Those speaking for disabled people are concentrating on [cuts and reforms to] disability living allowance, because these are the people who have a voice, but I am thinking of those who don’t.

“These people are not represented in the disability movement, but it is just so important for them to be involved and speak out.

See the rest of the article at The Fed website

The UK CEDAW Shadow Report – Women’s Equality in the UK: A health check


Sisters of Frida has been part of the UK CEDAW Working Group for some time now and Armineh Soorenian was largely responsible for collating a contribution for us about disabled women in the shadow report.

The UK CEDAW Shadow Report – Women’s Equality in the UK: A health check (  – has been produced by the CEDAW Working Group, a coalition of 42 women’s and human rights organisations from across the UK in preparation for the examination of the UK Government by the UN CEDAW Committee in July 2013.

Zara Todd and Eleanor Lisney represented SoF at the launch last week. Here are some of the reports about the successful launch –

Mentions in the press:

Zara and Eleanor

Zara and Eleanor (photo by Pete Riches)

Part of the CEDAW Working Group - Eleanor with Charlotte Gage

Part of the CEDAW Working Group – Eleanor with Charlotte Gage  (photo by Pete Riches)

Update on Anne Pridmore’s fight for the Independent Living Fund


Channel 4 news Katie Razzall had the piece  all ready for broadcast that eventful evening on the 13th March where Anne was at court with the other 5 people on behalf of thousands of others –  challenging the Government’s decision to scrap the Independent Living Fund from 2015 and devolve it to local authorities instead. However, in an ironic twist, news broke that a new Pope was chosen and all news coverage focused on that instead.

It was published online instead

Anne told Channel 4 News: “It’s like the sword of Damocles hanging over my shoulder because it’s always on your mind: what’s going to happen? Many of us feel the same way. If the local authority won’t take over the funding to pay for the bit the ILF have been paying, I see the only option is being put into an old people’s home. I’ve lived in this house for 47 years and didn’t expect to have to campaign to stay in my own home at my age.”

Mrs Pridmore has met representatives from her local council to ask what their plans are.

“I pressed them but they were very cagey, and talked about other ways of providing care which doesn’t involve “hands on” care. I believe they are probably referring to things like people having to use incontinence pads. They are not doing that yet in my local authority but I know that people who have to use these in other areas.”

Lawyers for the six told us they are challenging the Government decision on two grounds.

They say the Government is breaching the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, to which it is a signatory and which includes promises to promote independent living.

They also argue the consultation process carried out before the scheme was axed was “unlawful” because it didn’t provide adequate information on the differences between the fund and the local authority assessment and provision. They also say there hasn’t been proper assessment of the impact of the change on disabled people’s ability to live and work indepdently.

Read the rest on the Channel 4 website.
Read also her story on the DPAC website.

Sisters of Frida’s Anne Pridmore takes on Government

anne pridmore

Anne Pridmore

We at Sisters of Frida are proud to support Ann Pridmore, from Sisters of Frida, a disabled rights campaigner as she prepares for one of her toughest fights in taking on the Government in court.

Anne will be one of six disabled people from across England challenging the decision to scrap the independent living fund (ILF).

 Like thousands of people, Anne, 73, who has cerebral palsy, gets about half of her benefits directly from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) through the ILF.

The cash can be used for such things as hiring an assistant and getting laundry and shopping done – which are not provided by councils through social services care packages.

The fund has already closed to new members and, from 2015, the money will go to councils instead.

It will not be ring-fenced, meaning local authorities can do what they want with it.

Anne, of Market Harborough, said she feared many disabled people would have to rely on relatives or charities in order to continue living independently. Her challenge will be heard at the High Court in London over two days from March 13.

Anne, who has been campaigning for disabled people’s rights for 27 years, said:

“The Government always attacks the weakest members of society. There are about 18,500 people who are at risk of losing their funding and it’s a big step backwards.

“This Government has set back disabled rights 25 years since it has been in power, with people being taken off incapacity benefits and now this.

“It’s undoing all the work I’ve been doing.

“I think this fight is going to be a hard one.”

Anne said while she felt too old to be taking a Government department to court, she was doing it on behalf of younger people with disabilities who could benefit from the ILF in the future.

The six disabled people will ask the courts to declare that the public consultation held last year was unlawful and that the department had failed to explain why the only option it offered in its consultation was to close the fund.

They will also argue the Government breached the Equality Act by failing to assess the impact of the closure on disabled people.

Read more: