In 2013, the Zimbabwean government promulgated a final draft of legislation meant to serve and improve the lives of people living with disabilities in the country. The move was made in the name of “solidarity” as the government purportedly turned a corner from dictatorship to power sharing as a result of what was referred to as the Government of National Unity. Disability activists made various demands of the government from formulating a definition that covers all forms of disability, accessible government buildings, the mainstreaming of disability and representation at the local and parliamentary levels of legislation. Chief among these demands was a call for the government to help end the sexual assault and rape of disabled women and address the double burden of being disabled and being a woman. Public health experts, Ortoleva and Lewis argue, “Worldwide, women and girls with disabilities are up to three times more likely to be raped, twice as likely to experience other forms of gender-based violence, and more likely to suffer worse injuries and more prolonged abuse than women and girls without disabilities” (Ortoleva S. and Lewis H, 2012,38). Through the social model of disability, this research will explore the steps that have been taken by the Zimbabwean regime, disability activists and women’s rights organizations in the last 6 years to end sexual violence against women living with disabilities in Zimbabwe. It will ask the question “What has the government and nonprofit partners done to curb the prevalence of rape and sexual assault against women with disabilities in Zimbabwe?” Given that there is limited data on the issue of sexual assault against women and girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe, this research will analyze legislative documents that address disability and I will speak directly to disability advocates in Zimbabwe to find out the extent of sexual assault and rape within the disability community. I will investigate what direct action is being taken legislatively or by disability advocates to eliminate the pandemic. This work is analyzed through the lens of disability rights, political and women’s rights theories.


Laura Harrison

Committee Member

Jaime Madden

Committee Member

Maria Bevacqua

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright