Violence against children and disability

Evidence from studies in Uganda and Nepal shows that violence against disabled children is widespread in schools and communities – as presented in a seminar series and shared in the videos below.

The Gender Violence and Health Centre (GVHC) holds a series of seminars every year to mark the worldwide campaign, 16 Days of activism against violence against women. In November 2014, the series included a joint event with the International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, to coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).

Karen Devries (of the SaME group) and Maria Zuurmond presented on children with disabilities and their experience of education in Uganda and Nepal respectively, while Israel Balogum, a medical doctor and LSHTM student, presented on his personal experience of disability.

Findings from the Uganda study demonstrate that:

  • levels of violence against both disabled and non-disabled children are extremely high
  • disabled girls report slightly more physical (99.1% vs 94.6%) and considerably more sexual violence (23.6% vs 12.3%) than non-disabled girls
  • for disabled and non-disabled boys, levels are not statistically different
  • school is the main environment of risk as disabled girls in particular remain at high risk of sexual violence and physical violence from school staff
  • disabled boys report physical violence from male peer

The study in Nepal found that children with disabilities experience stigma, discrimination, violence and abuse in schools and in communities.

Someone shouts at me and calls me ‘cross-eyed’ (“deri”) and pulls my hair. [How many times has he said this to you?] Many times, twenty times.

Girl with a physical and intellectual impairment talking about bullying

Recommendations for communities and schools

  • Conduct awareness-raising at the family and community level about the rights of children with disabilities.
  • Promote ‘healthier schools’ which support the participation and inclusion of children with disabilities in all school activities, both in and out of the classroom.

Recommendations for research

  • Conduct research on the specific needs of children with intellectual impairments.
  • Conduct longitudinal research with children with disabilities in order to improve understanding of the longer term outcomes.


How common is violence against children in Uganda? Results from a cross-sectional survey by Dr Karen Devries. This study is published as a journal article.

Include us in education! A qualitative study from Nepal with children with disabilities and their caregivers by Maria Zuurmond. This study is published in collaboration with Plan International.

A personal story of disability by Dr Israel Balogum, a medical doctor and LSHTM student

No comments yet.

Leave a comment