10 Facts on Violence Against Women & Girls with Disabilities

TRIGGER WARNING This article, or pages it links to, contain information about  sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Women and girls with disabilities make up approximately 20% of the population of Australian women, which is about two million people. These facts show how women and girls with a disability are affected out of proportion when it comes to violence and abuse.


Abused teenage girl with a bruise on her cheek, crying and holding her face.1.  Forms of violence committed against women and girls with disabilities are much more wide-ranging and more severe than for women in general. [i]

2.  Compared to women in general, women and girls with disabilities are subjected to varied forms of violence by a larger number of perpetrators. [ii]

3.  Women with disabilities are 40% more likely to be the victims of domestic violence than women without disabilities. [iii]

4.  More than 70% of women with disabilities have been victims of violent sexual encounters at some time in their lives. [iv]

5.  20% of women with disabilities report a history of unwanted sex compared to 8.2% of women without disabilities. [v]

6.  The rates of sexual victimisation (a sexual act that exploits someone) of women and girls with disabilities range from 4 to 10 times higher than for other women. [vi]

7.  More than a quarter of rape cases reported by females in Australia are committed against women with disabilities. [vii]

8.  90% of Australian women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse. More than two-thirds (68%) having been sexually abused before they turn 18 years of age. [viii]

9.  Women and girls with disabilities in Australia continue to experience violence (particularly sexual violence) in residential and institutional settings. [ix] They frequently experience multiple episodes of abuse on a continual basis. [x]

10.  In Australia, there is no national, coordinated legislation to prevent and address violence against women with disabilities, including family/domestic violence. [xi]


Young girl with down syndrome is sitting down in a garden with flowers surrounding her. She is looking down at her hands. She looks beautiful but sad.  Text appears next to the image saying: "I have the right to freedom from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and maltreatment."



[i] Dowse, L. et al (2013) OpCit.

[ii] Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) (2007b) ‘Forgotten Sisters – A global review of violence against women with disabilities’. WWDA Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities. Published by WWDA, Tasmania, Australia.

[iii] Brownridge, D. (2006) ‘Partner violence against women with disabilities: Prevalence, risks and explanations’, Violence against Women, vol. 12, no. 9, pp. 805–22.

[iv] Frohmader, C. (2014) ‘Gender Blind, Gender Neutral’: The effectiveness of the National Disability Strategy in improving the lives of women and girls with disabilities. Prepared for Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), Hobart, Tasmania. ISBN: 978-0-9585268-2-1. Available at: http://wwda.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/WWDA_Sub_NDS_Review2014.pdf

[v] Cited in Dowse, L. et al (2013) OpCit.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Frohmader, C. (2011) Submission to the Preparation Phase of the UN Analytical Study on Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities, (A/HRC/RES/17/11). Prepared for Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). Available online at: http://wwda.org.au/issues/viol/viol2011/

[viii] Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) (2010) Family Violence — A National Legal Response. ALRC Final Report 114. Accessed online January 2013 at: http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/family-violence-national-legal-response-alrc-report-114

[ix] Dowse, L., Soldatic, K., Didi, A., Frohmader, C. and van Toorn, G. (2013) Stop the Violence: Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia. Background Paper. Hobart: Women with Disabilities Australia. Available at: http://wwda.org.au/issues/viol/viol2011/

[x] Attard, M., & Price-Kelly, S. (2010) Accommodating Violence: The experience of domestic violence of people with disability living in licensed boarding houses, PWDA, NSW.

[xi] Australian Government (2012) ‘Responses by Australia to the recommendations contained in the concluding observations of the Committee following the examination of the combined sixth and seventh periodic report of Australia on 20 July 2010.’ Accessed February 2013 at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/CEDAW.C.AUL.CO.7.Add.1.pdf

You might also like

Subscribe to our newsletter