*Disclaimer: While all stories are true, names and faces have been changed. We use images from stock photographs that are licensed for this campaign. Any person depicted is a model.
*Maria’s abuser knew he could control her. Because she is deaf.
When Maria was sexually abused by a family member, she didn’t know she had the right to say no. She didn’t know she had a right to protect herself. She didn’t know she had the right to report him to the police. All she knew was that she couldn’t tell anyone. Maria was denied the chance to report her abuser and to see him prosecuted.
Maria endured years of sexual and physical abuse. Sign language was not taught, or used, in her school or college, and no one explained to her at school or at home that she had rights. She had no way of even knowing that his behaviour was wrong. As a result, her abuser could prey on her with no fear of punishment. Instead Maria lived with confusion and fear. Even when the WFD explained that she could report the abuse, there were no sign language interpreters available to make it possible for the police to understand her terrible story. And she’s not alone.
All over the world, deaf women like Maria are abused, ignored, silenced and excluded. Globally, it’s women who are more likely to endure prejudice, violence and isolation because they are deaf. They are prevented from accessing education and learning sign language, and so cannot communicate their rights. They are denied sign language interpreters, so cannot seek justice. As a result, too many women like Maria do not even know the abuses inflicted upon them are wrong.
Deaf people all over the world are suffering terrible injustices. This is because society believes deaf people – and sign languages – are inferior and don’t deserve equal rights.
You can make sure no more women like Maria will be abused, ignored, excluded and silenced for being deaf.