Blind and visually impaired women face many issues on a daily basis. To commemorate Women’s Month, Blind SA held an urgent discussion with civil society groups to shed light on issues that visually impaired women face. This was part of a larger discussion held on 5 August which also addressed the education crisis for blind and visually impaired learners during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blind and visually impaired women: challenges and abuse
Mpini Letlhage (chairperson, House of Hope) says blind and visually impaired women face secondary abuse by police when reporting rape and other sexual abuse and domestic violence because the police say, “blind and visually impaired women cannot identify their perpetrators”.
Blind SA intends to document the concerns and challenges faced by blind and visually impaired women and to present a petition about the secondary abuse inflicted by the police on blind and visually impaired women when reporting cases of rape and domestic violence.
Time to raise concerns
With August being Women’s Month, Letlhage says now is the time to raise their concerns and challenges through provincial dialogues that will take place throughout August.
Speaking on the daily challenges of visually impaired women, Mashele says that the Gender-Based Violence Committee interviewed women from different backgrounds, provinces, and organisations, and ascertained that they face the following challenges:
- A lack of information and training in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Discrimination by authorities at all levels of government;
- A lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitiser;
- A lack of hearing and audio assistive devices and software;
- Exclusion by the public;
- Gender-based violence and abuse by law enforcement officers;
- Lack of opportunities for promotion;
- Lack of capacity building in terms of management; and
- Lack of quality and equality in education.
Nearly 50 people attended the virtual dialogue, including Jace Nair (CEO, Blind SA), Dr Siva Moodley (teacher and retired director of Unisa student affairs), Robyn Beere (deputy director, Equal Education Law Centre), Christo de Klerk (chairperson, Blind SA), Irene Mashele (secretary, House of Hope), and Jack Devnarain (actor and chairperson of the South African Guild of Actors.
Watch the full webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNSEw9Q8bAs
For the full article published in the Daily Maverick, go to https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-08-06-visually-impaired-community-faces-education-crisis-and-abuse-by-law-enforcement/