By Annabelle Lee

Disabled women need improved access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, legal help and education, said an activist today.

Speaking at the Women’s March in Kuala Lumpur, Harapan OKU member Naziaty Mohd Yaacob highlighted how many disabled women were victims of sexual abuse by their own caretakers but lacked avenues to report this.

“Many among us have been raped repeatedly but can’t seek help from the judicial system.

“[…] Victims of sexual abuse and exploitation often know their aggressors and for disabled women, they often have to rely on the very people who abuse them.

“They can only scream in silence,” she said in an impassioned speech.

Naziaty, who uses a wheelchair and participated in the entire march, demanded better protection and facilities for disabled women in line with the Persons for Disabilities Act 2008.

“We need information about sexual harassment and sexual and reproductive health in formats that are accessible to women with hearing impairments, vision impairments and to unschooled children.

“We also need healthcare, legal and educational facilities translated into sign language,” she said while accompanied by a sign language interpreter.

No more patriarchy, child marriage

More than 300 people participated in today’s march, which began at 10am at Sogo Shopping Complex and ended in front of the River of Life bridge in Dataran Merdeka at about 12:30pm.

The five demands of the march are to:

  • End all violence based on gender and sexual orientation;
  • Ban all child marriages;
  • Ensure women’s rights and freedoms to make choices over their own bodies and lives;
  • Ensure a dignified minimum wage of RM1,800; and
  • Destroy patriarchy and build genuine democracy at all levels of society

Police, Suhakam and Suaram monitored the march as participants chanted “patriarki pergi mati” (to death with the patriarchy), “wanita bangkit” (women rise) and “hentikan budaya rogol” (stop rape culture).

Among the other issues highlighted were domestic violence and the rights of female university students, Orang Asli women, refugee women, female domestic workers, LGBTQ and sex workers.