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Violence and abuse against women with disabilities in Malawi


This research project is a study of the nature of abuse, violence and neglect against women with disabilities in Malawi. The childhood as well as the present situation of 23 women with disabilities in Blantyre district is described. Data was collected in two ways: a) Through in-depth individual interviews with 19 women with visual-, mental- or physical disability, as well as women with albinism. b) Through a focus group discussion with four women with hearing impairment. The interviews and discussions were built on interview guides. Most of the informants reported that during childhood they were treated like the other children in the family. However, education was difficult. The schools and the school material were not adjusted to their needs. The informants stressed the need of more consideration in regards to their special needs in this relation and wanted the society to make education for women with disabilities a priority area. Many informants felt that men in the society took advantage of their vulnerable situation and promised to marry them. When the woman got pregnant, the man disappeared and left her to be a single mother. Many of the women regarded this as sexual abuse. The study was arranged as collaboration between SINTEF Health research, Norway, Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA) and Disabled Women in Development in Malawi (DIWODE). The Atlas Alliance and the Norwegian Department for Foreign Affairs have given economical support to the study.
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