Law not enough to protect disabled

Law not enough to protect disabled

A women’s rights group has found that girls with disabilities are more likely to be sexually abused, especially by those closest to them.

The problem has persisted despite the enforcement of the Persons with Disabilities Empowerment Act, said Vijita Rachatanantikul, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development.

She was talking during a seminar on sexually-abused women with disabilities in Bangkok on Thursday. She said the empowerment legislation focused on the rights of disabled people rather than the issue of sexual abuse.

The department’s collaboration with the non-profit group Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation (WMP) found that strong communities and leaders are key to the prevention of sexual abuse against people with disabilities, Ms Vijita said.

The book Injuries of Flowers, which was launched during the seminar, says that on average up to four women aged 14-16 with disabilities are sexually abused per year. Most culprits are people close to the victims, such as stepfathers, brothers and neighbours, the book says.

There are also other factors that hinder the prosecution of culprits, such as a victim’s physical limitations, poverty and the kingdom’s justice system, said WMP director Jaded Chouwili.

He said the culprits take advantage of the victims’ limitations to protect themselves from prosecution. Mr Jaded called on local administrative organisations (LAOs) and the Village Health Volunteer to help sexual abuse victims with disabilities.

He said he hopes the book would make society pay more attention to the problem so victims receive immediate assistance.

Orasom Suddhisakorn, the author, urged the state to provide other forms of aid, apart from financial support, for the victims.