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Home » Resources » Violence against disabled, lesbian and sex-working women in Bangladesh, India and Nepal

Violence against disabled, lesbian and sex-working women in Bangladesh, India and Nepal

Publication Date: 
June, 2012

The count me IN! Research Report on Violence Against Disabled, Lesbian, and Sex-working Women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal is based on the first ever multi-country research study on violence faced by disabled women, lesbian women, and female sex workers (FSWs) in three countries in South Asia—Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. CREA conducted the research study in partnership with University College London (UCL); James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh; Society for Nutrition, Education, and Health Action (SNEHA), India; and Centre for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA), Nepal. This report collates the findings and recommendations that emerged from the three country studies carried out by the research partners, under the aegis of CREA and UCL.

Although significant strides have been made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in many parts of the world, violence against women (VAW) continues to be a pressing issue for the South Asian agenda. Violence against women who are marginalised on the basis of sexuality or gender expression is particularly high. Yet, it remains under-reported and under-addressed because of the stigma and discrimination associated with them.

The study investigated the hypothesis that women who are outside the mainstream of the South Asian society suffer higher rates of violence and are often unable to seek and receive protection from State agencies. Women who are outside the mainstream on account of, for example, their sexuality (women who have sex with women), their occupation (women who sell sex), their age (women who are young and never married), or their physical or mental ability to assert themselves (women with physical or mental disability) are at an increased risk of violence. They are systematically restricted in their access to resources and are unable to fully participate in society.

A global literature review of various peer-reviewed research studies, focusing on disabled women, lesbian women, and FSWs, revealed that the overwhelming majority of these were conducted in North America. Only one of the identified studies was undertaken among the FSWs in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This highlights the existence of gaps in the evidence about or from South Asia. This report is a first step towards filling in some of these gaps in research by looking at the intersections of marginalisation, gender, and violence against women (VAW) in South Asia.

The fundamental rationale behind the research study was to foreground the voices of these three groups of marginalised women. The study aimed at making their concerns, experiences, and struggles central to the ways in which VAW is understood, and laws and policies are shaped.

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