Excitement as women with disabilities are sensitized about their sexual rights
“They stigmatise us when we go there during pregnancy. You could hear some health workers whisper: ‘That woman is not serious. How could she conceive when she’s disabled? I pity the man who slept with her,’” the women noted. “And when you fail to mount the labour bed or examination bed, they ask: ‘How did you manage to mount the other bed where you conceived from.’” Those were some of the testimonies of women with disabilities in Mpigi district during a sensitization workshop that was orgnanised today by Uganda National Action for people with disabilities (UNAPD) with support from the National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda as part of the activities of the Sex by Choice not Chance Project.
“When you go for HIV test, they (health workers) wonder why you are carrying out the test. They think we are not sexually active. When we also go for family planning services, they curiously look at you,” the women said. “These are some of the reasons why we don’t go for family planning or why we produce our children from our homes.”
They noted that many men don’t want to use condoms, deny paternity of children born by women with disabilities, and don’t want to identify with their disabled spouses.
Other challenges pointed out were inaccessibility to health centres, inaccessible labour beds rudeness of health workers towards expectant mothers. The sensitization was made through two workshops; one targeting women and the other targeting sexual and reproductive health service providers including health workers, traditional birth attendants and local leaders, who were trained about the needs and concerns of women with disabilities when it comes to sexual and reproductive health. The women were sensitized about managing their relationships and also used the workshop as a platform for sharing their sexual experiences. However, the women were more excited when it came to training in using a female condom the majority of whom had never seen.
The purpose of the sensitization was to equip the women with skills and knowledge to manage their sexual and reproductive health to minimise problems related to unwanted pregnancies, having multiple partners, engaging in unprotected sex, among others.