Girls & women affected by leprosy

ILEP calls for an end to discrimination against girls & women affected by leprosy 

girl from Myanmar with thanaka paste on her face

Women affected by leprosy already make up some of the worlds’ poorest and most marginalised groups. In many societies, girls and women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Gender is therefore an important area of ILEP’s focus. We are committed to working with partners to help tackle this inequality and protect the dignity and human rights of all people affected by leprosy.

Girls and women affected by leprosy are triply discriminated against because of their gender, the disabilities that can result from the disease and the stigma associated with it. about-img2

A recent review noted that women affected by leprosy are at risk of being abandoned and socially vulnerable. Some women with leprosy are sexually abused.

A study in Nepal by ILEP colleagues found that women affected by leprosy experienced a higher degree of sexual abuse by husbands than other women (with or without disabilities).

a smiling girl wearing a pink cardigan

Not only is violence against women a significant public health problem, it is also a fundamental violation of women’s human rights. Research has highlighted that there is still much to be done in our advocacy for women and leprosy. ILEP continues to shine a spotlight on the challenges of leprosy and how it affects women, particularly as it pushes for “Zero Transmission,” “Zero Disabilities” and “Zero Discrimination.”

young woman in white robe affected by leprosy, from Ethiopia

Violence against women may take many forms, including but not restricted to: domestic abuse, rape, child abuse, prostitution, human trafficking, psychological abuse, economic abuse, forced marriage and ‘honour’ crimes.

Worldwide, one in three women (35%) is physically or sexually abused during her lifetime; most of this is intimate partner violence.

Violence against women constrains poverty reduction efforts by reducing women’s participation in the community and lowers women’s access to education. (6)



Click here to read Kalpana’s story; a woman affected by leprosy, subjected to violence from her husband, supported by Lepra and several years later, building a business and a new life.









In December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 54/134, designating November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Hear more from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Executive Director for Women on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2016




return to Zero Disabilities home page