…IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA at the Festival of Mental Health

The representatives of …IZ KRUGA -VOJVODINA, Ivana Zelic, the coordinator of the SOS service and Miladinka Mijatovic, the consultant on the SOS phone line held a workshop named Sexuality and Sexual Violence against Women with Disabilities on October 12, 2021. The workshop was a part of the 6th Festival of Mental Health and took place in the OPENS youth center.

The Institute for Public Health Vojvodina organized the 6th Festival of Mental Health named Building a Safe Space for Mental and Sexual Health from 10-20 October in cooperation with numerous institutions and organizations. This year’s festival included various activities like workshops, interactive lectures, tribunes, film projections and exhibitions performed both online and on different locations in town.

The topic of the Festival is the importance of sexual health for mental health and the wellbeing of all the members of society.

The hosts talked about the models of disabilities, sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities, living in families or residential institutions. They emphasized the obstacles women with disabilities face when recognizing and reporting sexual violence, risk factors from sexual violence and references for supporting women with disabilities.

Problems of women with disabilities face in fulfilling their sexual and reproductive rights are stereotypes and prejudice about sexuality and parenthood, pieces of information not accessible in adjusted formats, medical staff not being informed enough about disabilities, inadequate and unadjusted communication with doctors and medical staff, architectural, communication and informational inaccessibility of the support services.

The participants found the information about the politically correct terms and discrimination of women with disabilities in residential institutions very valuable. They were shocked to find out that women in institutions do not make decisions about their reproductive life by themselves. Caretakers or legal guardians make the decisions without consulting with the disabled woman. Without informed consent, women are administered birth control pills along with regular therapy, a spiral are inserted in their bodies, forced abortions and sterilizations are performed. All of these represent a serious violation of elementary human rights.

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