Everyday hero: Justice for Deaf women in Argentina

Ester Mancera, Mariela León Bani belong to the NGO “Enlaces Territoriales para la Equidad de Género” and Mariana Reuter works in the NGO FUNDASOR. They are our partners for “Sordas sin Violencia”, the only device in Argentina specifically created for Deaf and hearing-impaired women victims of gender-based violence to access justice and navigate the legal system.

Ester Mancera and Mariela León Bani of the NGO “Enlaces Territoriales para la Equidad de Género” and Mariana Reuter of the NGO FUNDASOR, at the Residence for Deaf people “Casa Hogar” during a training event linked to UNDP Argentina’s project, “Removing Barriers for Access to Justice of Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Women.” © UNDP Argentina

In Argentina, public government assistance services for Deaf women and those those who are hard of hearing are almost non-existent. When Deaf women navigate the justice system to report sexual assault, rape or domestic violence, their biggest barrier is the absence of disability-inclusive services at legal aid centers, healthcare centers, law enforcement and the court system.

Some women living with disabilities do not know that their rights are being violated when they become the victim of a sexual assault or other forms of gender-based violence. Without widely available disability-friendly access to information about their legal rights, they maynot know they have the right to seek legal aid in order to get justice.

As part of “Sordas Sin Violencia,” Ester, Mariela and Mariana lead training campaigns within the deaf community to raise awareness of gender-based violence and the rights, laws and services available for the deaf community. This is within the framework of UNDP Argentina’s project, supported by the Government of Denmark, “Removing Barriers for Access to Justice of Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Women”.

If authorities and legal aid services can better understand the specific needs of Deaf and hearing-impaired women victims of gender-based violence, then they will be able to respond more effectively and provide higher quality of services. If Deaf and hearing-impaired women victims of gender-based violence comprehend their rights and feel that they are receiving an adequate treatment from these services, then they will seek more assistance and legal aid.

The initiative “Removing Barriers for Access to Justice of Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Women” proposes an innovative approach to promoting and protecting women’s rights. At this early stage, the expectation is to build awareness and reach a consensus, which later could scale up this sort of interventions. Thus, it is expected to find creative solutions so that access to justice public policies may effectively include all people, taking into account their interests and needs. Related to this, UNDP has another project to support disability policies in Argentina, “Fostering SDGs through access to justice of people in vulnerable situations,” which is currently being implemented by the Under-Secretary of Access to Justice of Argentina. Work had already begun to develop relevant instruments, tools and protocols that include the needs of Deaf and hearing-impaired women victims of gender-based violence both in the project and in other access to justice national programs.

Within the framework of UNDP’s 2017 Innovation Facility, UNDP in Argentina has been seeking comprehensive solutions to the obstacles which prevent Deaf and hearing-impaired women victims of gender-based violence from accessing justice. The Innovation Facility was launched by UNDP with the financial support of the Government of Denmark in June 2014, and was designed to offer technical and financial support to organizations as well as to experiment innovative approaches to increasingly complex human development challenges.

As NGOs continue to meet, train and hold dialogue with members of the Deaf communities and as the device “Sordas Sin Violencia” provide services, for the first time in Argentina’s history, the initiatives will reveal concrete data about the issues and challenges that Deaf communities face in accessing legal aid, security and justice. In the near future, the information may inform future disability-inclusive public policies.


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