Hello everyone. My name is Margherita Dall’Occo-Vaccaro, and I am speaking to you on behalf of Women with Disabilities Australia.
To begin, we cannot have a proper discussion without considering the impact of multiple and intersecting disadvantages in accessing and enjoying our full health, sexual and reproductive rights. We cannot have this conversation without fully acknowledging the racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination on top of abelism faced by those trying to access services or support.
Our right to sexual and reproductive health services, education and to make our own choices, is a right which begins as childhood and continues with us through puberty, into adulthood, through parenthood and beyond. As people with disabilities, we are often not afforded this right.
In 2022, we ran a survey to understand the sexual and reproductive rights, needs and wants of young women, girls and gender diverse people. We found that a significant number of these women, girls and gender diverse people are not making their own choices when it comes to contraception, sex, menstruation and other basic health services.
To move forward and advance these rights, we need accessible. disability specific information, which considers various cultural and contextual factors. We need privacy when accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare, and we need to break the stigma on teaching people with disabilities about our bodies, our needs, our rights AND our wants.
We need to have stronger discussions and take stronger and bigger steps to realise these rights. We will continue to experience abuse, trauma and violence through sexual and reproductive health services or by carers and guardians if we do not take stronger action.