The Advocates for Human Rights, in collaboration with Mobilising for Rights Associates, submitted a joint shadow report for the 18th Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This submission addresses Morocco’s international human rights obligations with respect to the rights of women with disabilities and Morocco’s obligation to protect them from all forms of violence.
In general, violence against women remains widespread in Morocco. Women with disabilities face compounded violence stemming from their gender and disability status. Exact figures pertaining to the prevalence and nature of violence suffered by women with disabilities in Morocco are not available as the issue remains largely taboo. The vulnerability of these women to violence derives from their disability as well as the associated risk factors such as lack of financial independence, physical dependence on other people, and the fact that people consider them a liability and a burden. Violence manifests in a variety of ways: assault, sexual abuse, battery, rape, bondage, expropriation of personal property, psychological violence such as threats and insults, deprivation of financial support, and being held hostage. The effects of this violence on women with disabilities are many.
Women with disabilities who are victims of violence (WDVV) face a variety of barriers related to reporting abuse, seeking assistance, and accessing justice. Some of the obstacles WDVV face stem directly from their disability. Depending on the nature of their disability, some WDVV may not be able to identify the aggressor, while others may not be able recognize what happened to them as abuse. In cases where the aggressor also happens to be the caregiver,
WDVV may fear reporting the violence because of their dependence on the caregiver and because of the risk of retaliation for reporting.
Furthermore, WDVV frequently face attitudinal barriers and are often denigrated by the police. Authorities frequently view their accounts of violence as lacking credibility. Moreover, WDVV also experience challenges in communicating and describing the harm they suffered. Lastly, WDVV face physical barriers—making it difficult for them to access police stations, courthouses, etc.—as well as information accessibility barriers, and as a result they often lack information and knowledge of the law and of their rights under the law.
Currently, Morocco’s legal framework does not offer adequate protection and services for WDVV. Morocco does not provide specific units, services, and procedures to respond to cases of violence against women with disabilities. Police stations, courts, and hospitals are insufficiently and inadequately staffed, resourced, or equipped to properly receive and accommodate WDVV. No specialized healthcare or other services exist for WDVV.
The joint stakeholder submission suggests recommendations for Morocco, including the need to:
· Conduct in-depth specific research to collect and publish statistics on the forms, prevalence, cost, and consequences of violence against women with disabilities;
· Revise the draft law currently in front of Parliament to include specific sections for the protection of and services for WDVV;
· Strengthen the police response to violence against women with disabilities by establishing specialized police units that can be mobilized to properly investigate cases of violence against women with disabilities;
· Improve the justice system response to cases of violence against women with disabilities by creating a specialized public prosecutor to investigate these cases and providing in-court specialists;
· Collaborate with civil society organizations to conduct a comprehensive public awareness-raising campaign to educate the public about violence against women, with a focus on women with disabilities, and to combat stereotypes, negative societal representations, and other forms of discrimination.
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