RUB campaign for the mainstreaming of Women with visual impairment into Isange One stop centre’s services
The Rwanda Union of the Blind has conducted a three day training for Isange One Stop Centre staff as part of the ongoing campaign on disability mainstreaming for the inclusion of women with visual impairment.
The training which started from 12th to 14th September, 2022 brought together at least 20 participants among them are GBV officers, Investigators and Medical Doctors of Isange One Stop Center from central level and district levels.
The training also brought on board 5 women with visual impairment with the aim of experience sharing with staff of Isange One Stop Centre (ISOCs) and improve their awareness on available GBV services.
The training which was conducted with the support from the GIZ Rwanda targeted 4 districts (Musanze, Rubavu, Nyagatare & Nyamagabe). These four districts were selected based on the fact that it is where there are more women members with visual impairment.
The main objective of this training was to enhance the skills and knowledge of the staff of Isange One Stop Center on disability and human rights based approach for a successful inclusion and mainstreaming of visually impaired women into Isange One Stop Center Service Provision by taking into consideration of special needs and attention of women with visual impairment in their respective service centers.
The inclusive training will also empower women with visual impairment towards improved awareness of Gender Based Violence and timely reporting of related cases for legal and other necessary support services.
The rights and dignity of the visually impaired persons have been eroded over the years by the historical use of the medical and charity models in service provision and the perpetration of negative society attitudes and cultural practices.
The Rwanda Union of the Blind observed that despite the growing global focus on visually impaired persons driven by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the inclusion of disability in the Sustainable Development Goals, violence against women and girls with disabilities in particular women with visual impairment has been broadly overlooked, contributing to the ‘invisibility’ of women with disabilities.
Women and girls with visual impairment not only experience the same forms of violence all women and girls experience, but are also at higher risk of other forms of violence including institutional violence, gender and sexual based violence, among others
It is well-known that women with visual impairment are also less likely to access support or legal redress than their peers without disabilities, often due to either the inaccessibility of essential services or the barriers faced to access such services where they exist (including physical, infrastructural, communication or attitudinal barriers) and their dependency on the person who committed the violence for mobility and support, or lack of awareness of the support available, among other factors.
By aiming to legitimize the needs and rights of women with visual impairment as rights holders as declared in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), under article 6 on women with disabilities and Sustainable development goals(SDGs)-5,on gender equality/SDG -10 on reduced inequalities, RUB is implementing one-year local subsidy project with the support from GIZ through its Rights Based Programme.
Through this project, RUB expects to create awareness for IOSC staff on issues affecting women with visual impairment in order to respond to necessary prevention of GBV cases and ensure that women with visual impairment have adequate access to multi-disciplinary services and other necessary GBV support services.
Based on the report on assessment of accessibilities for Isange One Stop Centers (2021) conducted by Rwandan Organization of Women with Disabilities(UNABU) which recommended a training for staff of IOSCs and based on informal reports from RUB women members, women with visual impairment experience a lot of violence including domestic, sexual and Gender Based Violence due to a number of reasons which include but not limited to being less capable of defending themselves and easily identify the suspects because of the nature of their disability among other reasons.
When the violence occurs, most of women with visual impairment face a lot of challenges in getting access to justice and other support services due to low self-esteem, limited information on available IOSC support services, dependence on other people for support, fear of reporting the abuser, the lack of accessible forms of communications and lack of proper orientation and treatment by IOS service providers.