Accessibility January 25, 2021
No Data on Violence Against Disabled Women
Ninety-three disability rights organisations, activists and concerned citizens have addressed a joint letter to the Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah expressing dismay over the fact that despite the large number of reported cases of sexual assaults on disabled girls/women, the National Crimes Record Bureau does not maintain disaggregated data on such violence, as a separate category.
They pointed out that though they had both individually and collectively raised this issue with different ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, National Commission of Women etc. there has been no positive result.
The signatories drew attention to the CRPD monitoring committee’s recommendations made in September 2019 which had asked the Indian government to:
Ensure that the National Crime Records Bureau collect data disag-gregated by sex, age, place of residence, relationship with perpetra-tor and disability in cases of violence and exploitation, including gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities, and violence inflicted by intimate partners.
Even the National Human Rights Commission in its Advisory on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the context of Covid-19 also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining data on violence on disabled people. It had recommended that the:
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) must include data on PwDs also.
It needs to be underlined that the maintenance of such data, will enable policy-makers in particular, and other stakeholders in general, to formulate strategies and mechanisms to respond to their particular needs, which can be disability specific, in facilitating access to the criminal justice system, among other things.
The lack of such data, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, following her visit to India, pointed out, “renders the violence committed against women with disabilities invisible.”
Addressed by the NPRD, NAB, AIFD, Parivaar and a host of other organisations, the letter emphasised that “this issue becomes all the more urgent as we are witnessing a growing number of cases of sexual assaults on girls/women with disabilities. We observe that during the pandemic period also there has been no respite. On the contrary, we find that there has been an increase in their numbers and the ferocity and brutality inflicted on the victims/survivors has escalated”.
In many cases the perpetrators seek to maim the survivor with the intention of fur-ther impairing her capacity to get through an already inaccessible criminal justice system. This was blatantly evident in the recent case in Bihar’s Madhubani were an at-tempt was made to damage the eyes of a hearing and speech impaired girl after she was subjected to gang-rape.
Questioning the logic behind the refusal of the NCRB to maintain such data, they drew attention to a reply in response to an RTI query. The NCRB sought to take refuge behind the specious plea that “police is a State Subject under the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution”. By that reasoning, NCRB should not be collating data for most of the crimes, as law and order is a state subject, the letter pointed out.
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