Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Berman, Helene A.


Despite numerous studies about gender-based violence (GBV) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), little attention has been paid to violence against women and girls with disabilities. Thus, this scoping review provides an overview of the empirical literature on GBV and disability within the SSA context. Selected literature included various aspects of GBV epidemiology, prevention and response, and interventions. Other aims were to identify the gaps in the current knowledge base and to contribute to an evidence-informed framework for the development of relevant and holistic programs and policies. A key finding is that efforts to seek help are often hampered by barriers, stigmatization, and denial of human rights. Educational opportunities are limited or inaccessible. Health promotion programs are often perceived as non-disability-specific or non-inclusive. Women and girls with disabilities have few options when seeking to leave abusive relationships, a problem that is compounded by the fact that their abusers are frequently their caregivers.

Summary for Lay Audience

Women and girls living with disabilities are at high risk for experiencing gender-based violence (GBV) in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. However, individuals and organizations that work with this population lack an understanding of the issue or knowledge about the relationship between disability and GBV. Stigma and discrimination, often linked to social-cultural stereotypes, compound the challenges. There is a need to provide training, knowledge, and skills to help women and girls overcome gendered and disability-related barriers that limit access to equal and equitable human rights services. The purpose of this scoping review of the literature is to provide an understanding of gender-based violence among women and girls with disabilities in Sub-Saharan African countries. A key learning from this study is that there are few existing programs designed specifically to prevent and respond to GBV against women and girls with disabilities, and little recognition of the problem. As a result, there is limited knowledge about how to best assist women and girls with varying types of disabilities It is recommended that practices, strategies, and policies be informed by a trauma- and violence-informed approach that takes into account histories of trauma and violence at the micro and macro levels.