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UI doctoral study reveals how spouse, family members, others victimise women living with disabilities in Lagos State

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A doctoral research from the Department of Sociology University of Ibadan has found that women living with disabilities (WWDs) suffer multiple victimisations from their spouse, relatives, healthcare providers and acquaintances in Lagos State.

A way to save them will be for state and non-state actors in Lagos state to effectively implement and enforce extant disability laws to mitigate victimisation of women with disabilities in Lagos state.

In his thesis entitled “victimisation experiences and coping strategies of women with disabilities in Lagos State”, Dr. Muhammed Faisol Olaitan who interviewed women living with disabilities who have experienced victimisation, heads of disable people organisations (DPOs), lawyers among others reported that the victimisation starts from the social construction of women living with disabilities as evil, asexual, useless and intellectually deficient.

The thesis which was supervised by renowned criminologist, Dr. Oludayo Tade found that “negative social constructions by families, spouse and others were influenced by cultural and religious beliefs about disability and led to multiple victimisations with harmful consequences on the life chances of the WWDs”.

According to Dr. Olaitan, women living with disabilities experience sexual assaults, beating, poisoning, stigmatisation, denial of medication, intimidation and deprivation perpetrated by spouses, relatives, and acquaintances.

“People living with Disabilities especially women suffer multiple victimisations. This is worsened by cultural beliefs, diseases, poverty and violent attacks. The Lagos State office of Disability Affairs (LASODA) is the major state actor performing regulatory and intervention roles on WWDs victimisation. Non-state actors such as the DPOs investigate and prosecute victimisers and organise seminars to improve the lives of WWDs. However, these interventions have not curbed victimisation due to challenges of implementing disability laws, unavailability of well trained personnel and data on WWDs.”

Dr. Olaitan’s stated that some parents lock up their children living with disabilities in a room for up to a year because they thought they constituted nuisance and embarrassment to the family.

“In this study, a lady of about 35 years told me how wrong medication by a quack doctor led to her visual impairment. Her father complained and nagged about it. She is now a graduate but she said the parents are mounting pressure on her because she has not got someone to marry her. They went as far as locking her up in a room for about a year despite wanting her to get someone to marry. She said that the victimisation experiences from outsiders cannot be compared with the one they face among family members. And cases like this contribute to their lack of confidence, and inferiority complex for women living with disabilities”.

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