NGO “You Can Do” Held Focus Groups with Women and Girls with Disabilities in Ferizaj and Prishtina

On 9 November, the beneficiary organization of the 17th Round “You Can Do” held the second focus group with young girls and women with mental disabilities, in support of the research/project: “Promoting state mechanisms that women and girls with disabilities live free of sexual abuse”.

NGO “You Can Do” has engaged a psychologist to meet with young girls and women with mental disabilities in the municipality of Ferizaj and Prishtina, to discuss and learn about their cases of sexual abuse and how their disabilities intersect.     

The results of these group discussions were written in two separate reports for each group and will be used in the research report along with other findings.

The data obtained from the meetings and correspondence of “You Can Do” include the representatives of the Mental Health Centers , police officials, the prosecutor’s office of the two targeted municipalities and organizations for persons with disabilities. The findings show that the number of sexual abuses, ill-treatment, insults, discrimination and cases where physical and mental violence has been exerted on persons with mental disabilities is extremely high, especially among girls and women of this category.

The stories shared by the participants of the focus groups, psychologist’s meetings with social workers,  and nurses of mental health centers, reveal that despite the large number of abuses and misuses of young girls and women with mental disabilities, very few cases are reported to the police even fewer cases end up in court. These cases remain unsolved and legitimize such behaviors and abuse towards disabled people, emphasizes the psychologist, who, based on meetings with nurses and social workers, has discovered that cases of rape, mistreatment and sexual abuse are cases that are repeated multiple times.

Young girls and women of this category face this many times throughout their lives. Focus groups with women in mental health centers have pointed out that group psychology sessions, but also individual psycho-social sessions are more than necessary for these girls and women.

The psychologist and the workers of the two mental health centers (Ferizaj and Shtime) have explained that many of the women and girls participating in the focus groups are diagnosed with schizophrenia, and this in many cases prevents them from receiving their requests, complaints and lawsuits seriously. Disbelief in the statements of victims of this category not only victimizes them even more and affects further institutional and social oppression and violence, but also makes it easier for the perpetrators and sexual abusers to continue abusing these girls and women.

“You Can Do” envisages that at the end of the project and the research report, it will also come with concrete recommendations for mental health institutions and other actors for the prevention of misuse and abuse, the measures that must be taken and the rehabilitation of victims.

NGO “You Can Do” carried out this activity as a beneficiary of the grant from the 17th Round of the Kosovo Women’s Fund, through the initiative of the KWN “Enhancing the Capacities and Resilience of CSO’s: Furthering Gender Equality Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which is financed by the Office of the European Union in Kosovo.