Invisible Realities: Understanding the Lived Experiences of Women with Disabilities in Rural Nepal

55. Nahar Tole (slum village), Godawari – where Saathi is supporting women affected by the 2015 earthquake in a savings and credit group, through trainings (lead

Invisible Realities documents the prevalence and types of violence against women and girls (VAWG) amongst women with disabilities in Nepal.

The key findings highlight that women with disabilities experience multiple forms of violence, including psychological, sexual, and physical violence. Perpetrators of violence are often known to women with disabilities, and include partners and other family members, people on whom women with disabilities are often dependent. In addition to this, women with disabilities are often confined to the home or live in institutional settings, which together with their dependency on others, makes reporting abuse and seeking just very difficult. The violence is compounded by multiple layers of discrimination which interplay and serve to impact their ability to claim their rights and life free from violence and abuse.

These findings underscore the need to improve knowledge and understanding of the specific experiences and needs of women with disabilities, helping women recognise abuse, access services and access justice.

  • Women with disabilities have difficulty recognising and defining violence against them, including sexual violence. No more than half of all the women who took part in this research identified sexual violence (including forced sexual intercourse and marital rape) as a form of gender-based violence.
  • 31% of the women with disabilities who took part in the research said they had experienced violence. Of the women who experienced violence almost half (42%) had a physical disability.
  • Women who said they have experienced violence reported being humiliated, insulted and terrorised (psychological violence), forced to have sexual intercourse (sexual violence) and being slapped, beaten and things thrown at them (physical violence).
  • 72% of people with disabilities who experienced violence said they have experienced psychological violence. 38% of people with disabilities who experienced violence said they have experienced physical violence. 17% of people with disabilities who experienced violence said they have experienced sexual violence.
  • Over two thirds (73%) of women who experienced violence said that their disability was one of the main causes of the violence against them.
  • 64% of women who experienced violence said the violence was perpetrated by family members (mainly from intimate partners).
  • Women who reported experiencing violence reported psychological problems, including not wanting to talk to anyone, being scared, feeling like they wanted to cry, experiencing mental stress and suicidal thoughts.
  • Women with disabilities face social, cultural, political and religious exclusion. Over a third (40%) of the women who were unmarried reported that the main reason for not marrying was due to their disability.
  • Women with disabilities who have experienced violence face multiple barriers in accessing justice. The majority of women with disabilities (73%) in this research who said they experienced violence did not report the abuse to anyone, including the police or any other local organisations. 50% of people with disabilities who experienced violence remained silent because they feel that no one listens to a person with a disability.
This report is the result of a documentation activity led by Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA) to understand the prevalence and types of violence against women and girls (VAWG) amongst women with disabilities in Nepal. This activity formed part of the Womankind funded project ‘Strengthening the capacity and visibility of women with disabilities’ from November 2017 to December 2018.

Download Invisible Realities here.