30 chapter 2: Organizing for disability-friendly health care
Delphine has cerebral palsy. She uses a wheelchair to get around. She
has a boyfriend who does not want anyone in the community to know
he is having a sexual relationship with a woman with a disability. He is a
“midnight husband,” who comes to see her only when it is dark at night,
and leaves before it gets light in the
One day Delphine
Why is she asking for
realizes she has an
unusual discharge from
her vagina. She tries
local remedies to cure
it, but nothing helps.
The discharge starts to get
worse, and she also gets
a pain in her belly. Finally,
Delphine goes to a clinic. They
do not want to believe her when
she says she has sexual intercourse,
and she does not want to give them the
name of her boyfriend because she fears he will not see her any more.
At the clinic they insist her disability must have caused her problem and
try stretching her arms and legs, which makes her muscle spasms worse,
and they try giving her medicines to relax her muscles. The medicines do
nothing to help the pain in her belly, which gets worse and worse. She also
starts sweating and gets a high fever, and has pain when she passes urine.
Delphine remembers a friend telling her about a group of disabled
women who meet together and she goes to them to tell them her problem.
They have recently been studying a book someone gave them called Where
Women Have No Doctor and they read about how infections can be passed
from one person to another during sex.
Two of the women in the group volunteer to go with Delphine to the
clinic again. Together they are able to convince the doctor that she has
had sex. So the doctor does the proper tests and discovers Delphine has a
serious sexually transmitted infection in her womb caused by gonorrhea
and chlamydia (see Chapter 8). He gives her the proper medicine. He also
tells her that her boyfriend will also need to take the medicine, and that he
should use condoms when they have sex so he does not pass an infection to
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007