Young people with disabilities face insurmountable barriers to accessing justice for GBV


In Samoa, women and young people with disabilities often face insurmountable barriers to accessing justice for the gender-based violence that they experience. 

Barriers include inaccessible justice system information and reporting systems; stakeholders without training on disability inclusion, and disempowerment of people with disabilities. However, there is a substantial opportunity to address these barriers in Samoa as there is a recognized commitment to addressing violations against people with disabilities. 

This is outlined in the assessment report on sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, and access to essential services for women and young people with disabilities in Samoa, which the United Nations Population Fund commissioned (UNFPA) under the Australian Government-funded Transformative Agenda for Women, Adolescents and Youth in the Pacific programme. 

Currently, the Samoan police lack the comprehensive procedures to handle and investigate reports of violence involving people with disabilities and do not have accessibility mechanisms available to enable people with disabilities to report violence independently. 

For women and young people with disabilities who seek to report violence to the police, many experience attitudinal barriers from both police officers (who are unwilling to accept their statements) and from family members (who discourage them from reporting GBV incidents to the police).

Stakeholders report that the Samoan police are open to increasing their capacity to serve Samoans with disabilities, but a lack of resources currently hinders systemic change from taking place.