Sexual assault and rape 299
Talk about sexual abuse with women who have problems with
learning or understanding
All children are taught to obey adults. As they grow
older, they learn when not to obey. But women who
have learning difficulties have often only been taught
to trust other people, to be ‘good’ by being quiet, not
arguing, and by doing what they are told. This can
make them easy targets for people who may try to take
advantage of them, including sexually.
Talk about sexual abuse with girls and women who have problems learning
and help them understand they have a right to be safe from abuse. Make sure
they know they can talk to you or someone they trust if they are being touched
or abused, and that they will be believed and kept safe.
Also, make sure women who have learning difficulties learn how to defend
Sexual assault and rape
Sexual assault means forcing a woman to have sexual contact she does not want. Rape
is the most violent form of sexual assault. Rape happens any time a man puts his penis,
finger, or any object into a woman’s vagina, anus, or mouth without her consent.
Sexual assault and rape of girls
Sexual assault and rape is extremely harmful to anyone. But the effect it has on girls
can be especially hard and long-lasting. Because girls are not sexually mature and
may not understand exactly how to explain what was done to them, they often have
a difficult time getting anyone to believe them. In some communities, a girl who
has been raped will never be ‘acceptable’ to marry.
In places where there is a strong military presence, girls are sometimes forced to
be servants or ‘sex slaves’ for soldiers or armed groups. These girls are often disabled
physically and emotionally as a result.
In some places, people believe that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS, and
many very young girls, and even babies, have been raped because of this belief.
Because their bodies are small, their genitals get badly damaged and they are more
easily infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007