Lack of adequate access to quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and the denial of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights have negative implications on women with disabilities and their right to choose. Under the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Program, DESK seeks to empower Deaf and hard of hearing populations on their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights-significantly empowering them with knowledge, support, and the ability to demand their rights, take control over their bodies and hold decision-makers to account.
Discrimination towards people with disabilities, coupled with attitudes toward women in patriarchal societies puts women and girls with disabilities at increased risk for violence.
The program focuses on shifting social norms, and creating an enabling environment by identifying change agents, holding public debates, dialogues and running media campaigns to encourage critical thinking on issues of gender and SRHR (including but not limited to; family planning, HIV, GBV, FGM)
Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV)
Discrimination towards people with disabilities, coupled with attitudes toward women in patriarchal societies puts women and girls with disabilities at increased risk for violence. Although women and girls with disabilities experience many of the same forms of violence that all women experience, when gender and disability intersect, violence has unique forms and causes and results in unique consequences. Women and girls with deafness are particularly targeted by perpetrators of violence because of social exclusion, lack of support structures, communication barriers, and negative social perceptions.
For women and girls, the process of reporting violence is often inaccessible because of inadequate policies and standards, negative attitudes, information availability, communication, lack of service provision, inadequate funding, and lack of involvement of disabled women and girls in decision-making that directly affects their lives.
Therefore, under the GBV program, we work to bring about gender equality and reduce violence against Deaf women and girls through empowering women and girls with knowledge, skills, ability, and support to demand their rights and work with communities, boys and men to create an enabling environment to support those rights and drive change, this will be achieved by;
- Increasing family and community awareness, acceptance, and commitment to promote and protect the rights of Deaf women and girls and other women with disabilities.
- Improving the capacity of Deaf women and girls to protect their rights, and prevent family and community perpetrated violence against them.
- Capacity build and support local CSOs, DPOs, Women Rights Organizations, and Girls Rights Networks on disability awareness, referrals processes, laws, and policies, protecting women and girls with disabilities to better support and demand rights of Deaf women and girls, bringing about improved gender equality and access to GBV services.
- Supporting GBV survivors with deafness to access legal, police, medical and psycho-social services addressing the supply and demand sides of SGBV.
- Capacity building and support the work of duty-bearers including health care professionals, the judiciary, police, and social protection, in the violence prevention -to enable those duty bearers to effectively and efficiently provide inclusive, accessible, gender-sensitive, and disability-sensitive services and support to people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.
Production and Distribution of Deaf-friendly SRHR IEC / Informational materials / Series
DESK has also developed the SRHR series which includes booklets and short films on sexual development, puberty, menstruation, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, sexual abuse, and family planning in simple, easy-to-understand formats. This ensures that all Deaf women and girls including those that lack basic literacy skills get access to this extremely important information and when they do, it is in easy-to-understand language. For example, illustrations on some of the booklets reinforce content explained in text for easier understanding.