Opinions

A Public Call Towards Gender-Based Violence Against Children with Disabilities in Schools

By Taiba Yar Baig

Every child has the right to a quality education and a safe school environment for economic growth and safety.

Gender-based violence in schools hinders children’s education and poses health hazards. Over the last two decades, “Special Education Needs” (SEN) has become associated with “inclusive education” and reducing obstacles for all students. How are disabled children doing given the worldwide commitment to Education for All (EFA)? However, they look to be struggling. Cultural prejudices against gender and disability are widespread. Their educational choices are limited. Why don’t we know more?

When it comes to educational institutions, on a global scale, children with disabilities experience a higher incidence of gender-based violence in comparison to children without disabilities in schools. Disability studies examine the lives of people with disabilities without judging their worth. This effort aims to improve disabled people’s stories. It may also be a social construct that includes people whose physical and cognitive traits differ from or are seen to differ from, cultural standards in existence and behavior (Hofmann, Kasnitz, Mankoff, & Bennett, 2020). It has been identified from various studies (Namatovu, Preet, & Goicolea, 2018; Njelesani, 2019; van der Heijden, Harries, & Abrahams, 2019; Perreault, 2020; Sarfraz. et.al, 2022) on gender-based violence (GBV) among all children, but not specifically studies on disabled children in schools.

Significance of the Issue

Both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and, more recently, the UN Convention on the Rights of Children with Disabilities emphasize the necessity of incorporating disabled children. Recently, policies, procedures, and accountability levers have been implemented to incorporate disabled children (Bickenbach, & Bickenbach, 2009). Educational forums want to assist and include these children in decision-making to speak out against gender-based violence. This call seeks to inform education stakeholders about gender-based violence’s effects on disabled children. Understanding this notion is crucial for educational leaders making important reform decisions. Low- and middle-income countries have 93 million disabled children (World Health Organization [WHO], 2011). Children’s rights are detailed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In Articles 2 and 23, handicapped children are emphasized. WHO (2011) further highlighted that handicapped children are among the most inability to verbally express their struggles, they keenly feel the impact of their circumstances.  Despite their Socially, they often face segregation, exclusion, lacking the same opportunities, and unequal treatment as their non-disabled peers. There is a pressing need for advocacy and support systems to ensure these children receive equal access to education, healthcare, and societal acceptance. Additionally, both within families and communities, there is a significant gap in understanding and supporting the unique needs of these children. vulnerable since discrimination is unacceptable for handicapped children. GBV in schools caused student dropouts and impacts are unknown.

To create system-level adjustments, we must understand this incident’s origins and effects. It is further recommended to monitor the gap between national and local laws and the norms and inequities that create gender-based violence at the national, district, school, and community levels. The research is also significant to me. Since I worked closely with children with hearing impairment (Deaf and dumb), parents, teachers, and deaf communities in one organization, I have a strong personal connection to this children’s disability organization because I’ve seen the educational, community, and societal effects of treating disabled children. In front of other students and staff, a teacher verbally abused a hearing-impaired kid. Even though the youngster didn’t respond, they felt humiliated and upset. This has led me to bring up the important issue of gender-based abuse against disabled children in school on a global forum.

Points of Interests

Unequal gender norms, conflict histories, and socioeconomic inequality affect violence and policy responses. National legislation and policies to combat violence have been worked on. Local policy implementation and GBV Programme development by NGOs and governments have also progressed in various nations. These examples reflect a worldwide trend in GBV policy and practice. No, as such evidence suggests that these national and local initiatives have reduced gender-based violence, particularly among disabled children. Unfortunately, violence seems to be rising, maybe owing to more people speaking out. GBV evidence gathering is hampered by this. Insufficient evidence is published about disabled children and education. This applies to all nations, including Pakistan, regardless of development.

Prospective Outcomes/s

This global issue advances the understanding of gendered-based violence against disabled children in schools. It will advise incorporating disability frameworks and models into research, education, practice, and school curricula. This global call will improve the accessibility, representation, and experiences of disabled children, particularly those who experience gender-based violence in schools. The goal is to reduce health inequities and improve well-being. There are no established criteria for including them in gender-based violence research. The effort sought to educate educational stakeholders on gendered discrimination, violence, and inequities faced by handicapped children. This knowledge is crucial for educational leaders implementing major learning environment modifications. This will also assist educational institutions examine ways to adapt successful efforts for other marginalized groups to overcome stigma and discrimination encountered by handicapped children.

Future Prospects

Children with disabilities experience greater violence than non-disabled children. In my previous professional experience, I worked closely with disabled children, particularly those who are hearing and speech impaired, in Pakistan. Through this work, I am acutely aware of the several challenges these children face daily. These experiences have strongly motivated me to deepen my expertise in disability studies and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to address the needs of these underprivileged communities. My long-term post-doctoral objectives revolve around designing and implementing practical curriculum models and frameworks related to policy framing against gender-based violence that can be integrated effectively to address educational disparities related to gender-based violence against disabled children in schools and serve marginalized communities in Pakistan. My goal is to make a meaningful impact on children with disabilities within and out of school, education, and community in my context. I am particularly interested in exploring strategies to improve gendered-based violence against disabled children, promote nurturing environments at school and home, and foster social support to bring about positive change in schools and marginalized communities. And understanding of the implications of the current state of policies and strategies for addressing issues against GBV among disabled children in schools.

Note: I am open to collaborating with potential leaders who have expertise in the field of Gender Based Violence and disability studies. For further correspondence, please reach out to me at baigtaiba696@gmail.com.

The contributor is an MPhil Scholar at Aga Khan University Karachi, Pakistan


References

Bickenbach, J. E., & Bickenbach, J. E. (2009). Disability, culture and the UN convention. Disability and Rehabilitation, 31(14), 1111-1124.

Dunne, M., Humphreys, S., & Leach, F. (2003). Gender and violence in schools. background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 4.

Hofmann, M., Kasnitz, D., Mankoff, J., & Bennett, C. L. (2020). Living disability theory: Reflections on access, research, and design. In Proceedings of the 22nd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (pp. 1-13).

Njelesani, J. (2019). “A child who is hidden has no rights”: Responses to violence against children with disabilities. Child abuse & neglect, 89, 58-69.

Namatovu, F., Preet, R., & Goicolea, I. (2018). Gender-based violence among people with disabilities is a neglected public health topic. Global health action, 11(sup3), 1694758.

Perreault, S. (2020). Gender-based violence: Sexual and physical assault in Canada’s territories, 2018. Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 4-39.

Sarfraz, M., & Qarnain, Z. (2022). Gender-based violence in Pakistan and public health measures: a call to action. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 100(7), 462.

World Health Organization and The World Bank. 2011. World Report on Disability. Geneva: World Health Organization.

Van der Heijden, I., Harries, J., & Abrahams, N. (2019). Ethical considerations for disability- inclusive gender-based violence research: Reflections from a South African qualitative case study. Global public health, 14(5), 737-749.

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