Nearly half the differently-abled women in the city interviewed for a study reported they had been sexually abused.
The study, conducted by lecturers Apoorva Panshikar and Shaistha Pattiarimal at the Centre of Special Education, SNDT Women’s University, analysed the effect of gender and disability on life in the city.
The researchers surveyed 84 residents of the city comprising 27 differently-abled women, 27 differently-abled men and 30 other women between January and July last year.
“In the case of differently-abled women, there is double discrimination based on both, her gender and her disability. There are several myths about the sexuality of the differently-abled,” said Panshikar who along with Pattiarimal presented their paper at a seminar held at SNDT earlier this month.
Panshikar added, “The women interviewed during the course of the study said that they were sexually harassed most commonly in public places. The women experienced higher degrees of insecurity while travelling on their own compared to the differently-abled male population.”
Focusing on areas of concern such as education, employment, family, marriage, sexuality and accessibility and compared it with the non-disabled section, the study found that in most cases, women are not even provided basic sex education.
The study also stated that of the employed persons with special needs, more than 80% were working in the public sector and only a negligible number had found jobs in the private sector.
“There are very few opportunities for the differently-abled in the private sector and a clear discrepancy in the salaries earned by them and the non-disabled,” said Pattiarimal. “As per the study, 77% of the sampled differently-abled population were working with institutions functioning for their welfare.”