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Young disabled women are twice the risk of sexual violence | Australia News

Young women with a disability are twice as likely to experience sexual violence as those without a disability, the royal commission has found.

The royal disability commission released a new investigative report on Monday night just hours after tens of thousands of women demonstrated across the country in protest against discrimination and gender-based violence.

Overall, the report revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of people with disabilities reported experiencing physical or sexual violence, intimate partner violence, emotional abuse, or harassment in their lifetime.

That’s compared to 45% of people without disabilities, according to the report from the Center of Excellence in Research in Disability and Health.

The report, described by the commission as “alarming,” said that among young women between the ages of 18 and 29, people with disabilities were twice as likely to report experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime than those without disabilities. .

In the past 12 months, people with disabilities had 2.2 times the risk of sexual violence and 2.6 times the risk of intimate partner violence compared to people without disabilities.

They were also 2.4 times more at risk of being bullied than non-disabled people, and women had the highest risk of experiencing the behavior, according to the report.

Other findings included that men with disabilities were 2.6 times more likely to report sexual violence compared to men without disabilities, and that people with cognitive and psychological disabilities were more likely to have experienced violence than those with other disabilities.

Another factor was the economic position, since people with disabilities who live in economic difficulties are three times more likely to suffer violence.

One of the report’s authors, Dr. Georgina Sutherland, said the commission had asked researchers to examine the scope and nature of violence against people with disabilities and their findings showed it was a “real problem.”

“Young people, especially young women, are at risk of sexual violence,” she said. “We know. But the risk is higher for people with disabilities.

“As this report will show, the risk is sometimes double for people with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. It is a big problem, especially for young women in Australia. It is an even bigger problem for young women with disabilities. “

The report, entitled “Nature and extent of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation against people with disabilities in Australia”, was compiled from responses to the Personal Safety Survey, a national survey administered by the Office Statistics Australia that collects data on experiences of interpersonal violence every four years.

Sutherland said it was the best data available, but it was still a “biased picture,” meaning it “almost definitely represents what is really happening to people with disabilities.”

Sutherland, who attended the March 4 Justice rally Monday, said women with disabilities had been sharing their stories of violence and abuse for decades.

“Women with disabilities do share their experiences in disclosing violence, and they are discredited, ignored,” she said. “I think that’s why we have a real commission.”

Last month, the commission heard from Melanie, a pseudonym given to a First Nations woman with a cognitive disability who was allegedly subjected to sexual, physical and psychological abuse as a child.

Melanie ended up in the court system and spent seven years in isolation in a forensic hospital after being transferred from prison.

She told the commission: “I had a bad education, but I am a strong, proud black Aboriginal woman who is here today before you to come to seek help where I need it and to fight for my rights.”

The commission has also heard cases of physical and sexual abuse in supported accommodation, perpetrated by staff, according to its interim report.

The report comes as the Morrison government faces scrutiny for its failure to legislate greater privacy protections to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers who want to come forward to testify in the royal commission.

Labor wrote to the government on Monday urging it to grant the royal commission’s request for an extension of its work, after Guardian Australia revealed that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney General Christian Porter had not responded to the commission. for four months. .

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