NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 2019 (IPS) - One in five women globally lives with a disability even as they have same needs and interests as women without disabilities, their access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights remains severely limited.

Delegates representing people living with disabilities at the ICPD25 Conference painted a grim picture of barriers and challenges they face.

“We are perceived to be asexual and therefore offering us reproductive health information is considered wasteful,” says Josephta Mukobe, principal secretary of the Kenya’s Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Motherhood remains taboo for differently abled women

Mukobe says motherhood for them is taboo, and that a pregnant woman with a disability is a phenomenon to be pitied, even ridiculed by society.

“We cannot enjoy pregnancy because people look at us and wonder what poor beast this is with a disability. They are even shocked that you even have sexual organs,” she expounds, and adds: “We desire love and active and healthy sexual life to raise a family.”

Under international law and multilateral agreements, governments have a responsibility to ensure equal respect, protection and access to sexual and reproductive health, as well as rights for people with disabilities. But this is policy – and a long way to practice.

Fighting Exclusions

Veronica Njuhi, chairperson of Women Challenged to Challenge, a movement that ensures women with disability develop a capacity to overcome barriers and discrimination, speaks of how she was continually excluded from training on HIV/Aids.

“My employer never included me in any training on HIV/Aids even though it was offered to all employees. When I confronted him, he was very shocked because he did not think I needed training on HIV/Aids,” she says.

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