Disabled Women and Sexual Violence in Portugal

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Fernando FONTES , Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
Ana Cristina SANTOS , Centre for Social Studies - University of Coimbra - Portugal, Coimbra, Portugal
When compared to the general population, disabled people present a higher risk and incidence of violence (UN, 2006; EU, 2011). National reports have highlighted the higher vulnerability of disabled women and people with learning difficulties either living in institutions or with their families (OPM, 2009; INR, 2010). Despite the great investment by Portuguese public authorities in programs designed to prevent violence there are no intersectional studies of violence in Portugal, emphasizing discrimination factors and highlighting the situation of disabled people in Portuguese society. Therefore the lives of disabled people are still marked by exclusion, poverty and prejudice. In a context that is particularly disabling, masculinized and male-oriented, such as Portugal, disabled women are in a particularly vulnerable position, accumulating the inequalities based on disablism and sexism.

Based on the Social Model of Disability and drawing on the research project ‘Disabled Intimacies: sexual and reproductive citizenship of disabled women in Portugal’ (funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology - reference PIHM/GC/0005/2008) and on my post-doctoral research on disablist hate crime in Portugal (funded by FCT – Reference SFRH/BPD/80059/2011) developed at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, this paper considers the issue of sexual violence targeting disabled women in Portugal. In this paper we begin by introducing the Portuguese context in relation to citizenship rights and outlining the phenomenon of sexual violence targeting disabled women in Portugal. The data was gathered from public reports, media coverage and original empirical data collected in biographical interviews and evidences that family and close neighborhood members constitute most of the perpetrators. We continue examining the legal dispositions already in place in Portugal in order to protect disabled women. And we conclude, assessing the effectiveness of the existing laws and exploring the potentialities of the legal recognition of disability hate crime in Portugal.