Armed Violence and Disability: the Untold Story - Preliminary Report 2012

from Handicap International - Humanity & Inclusion
Published on 30 Sep 2012 View Original


Armed violence has powerful, lasting impacts, inflicting severe injuries and impairments and leaving behind broken families, fearful communities and societies in which violence is the norm. It is a daily fear and fact of life for millions of people, particularly those in low income countries and in the marginalised urban zones of more developed countries.

Violence is one of the world’s leading causes of mortality for people between the ages of 15 and 44. An estimated 1.5 million die every year, while many more ‘suffer non-fatal injuries and chronic, non-injury health consequences as a result of suicide attempts, interpersonal violence, and collective violence.’ 16 million injuries caused by violence require medical attention each year, many of which lead to death and disability and incur considerable direct and indirect costs through treatment, recovery and lost productivity.

Persons with disabilities experience heightened exposure to armed violence as a result of various factors, such as exclusion from education and employment, the need for personal assistance in daily life, social stigma, discrimination and communications barriers for reporting violence8. Armed violence injuries and disabilities have far reaching consequences not only at an individual level, but also for society and the wider economy of the country.

Despite a growing body of evidence and knowledge, systematic data on the magnitude, scope, characteristics and impact of armed violence on people is scarce. Data on the demographics of the victims, the types of physical impairments sustained due to armed violence, the socio-economic impact on these individuals post-impairment and the type of assistance available are particularly scarce. This study aims to understand the links between armed violence and impairments that can lead to disabilities. It focuses on individuals who sustain impairments resulting from incidents of armed violence. The Disability Creation Process is adapted to analyse the combination of health problems, discrimination and socioeconomic exclusion that can lead to disability for people who have sustained serious injury and/or lasting impairments as a result of armed violence.

This report acknowledges the challenges of data collection in the context of armed violence and includes findings from a pilot research project carried out between May 2011 and April 2012 in Medellin, Colombia; Karamoja, Uganda; Peshawar, Pakistan; and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. These regions of four countries were specifically selected for the diverse contexts of armed violence taking place within them.

Research methods included a survey of survivors of armed violence with a sample of 713 respondents across the four countries. Key informant interviews were held with 128 local leaders (security forces, government officials, members of the media, civil society members) and family members of people killed or injured by armed violence. Twelve life histories of survivors of armed violence were recordedii; and data was collected from hospitals and police stations. During data collection a number of challenges were encountered, such as unreliable and irretrievable hospital and police data, difficulties accessing volatile regions and reaching women. The difficulties associated with capturing data on armed violence means that we acknowledge a degree of sampling bias (for example survey samples predominantly concerning younger men).