By Sarah Carlin on 28 November 2018
Why older victims should take centre stage as we push to eliminate violence against women
The annual UN-organised International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women & Girls (VAWG) took place earlier this week. This year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres declared that the prevalence of VAWG was a “mark of shame” on all societies.
It’s encouraging to see this awareness day’s profile increase every year. There has been a cultural shift that has given people the courage to speak out and stand up to these crimes and barriers to progress on this issue continue to be broken.
But what often gets missed is the true female demographic that suffers the most violence: Far from this being a young person’s issue – women are actually more likely to experience aggression as they age.
A 2016 report Safe Later Lives: Older People and Domestic Abuse indicated that women in England and Wales aged 61+ were much more likely to experience abuse from a current intimate partner than those 60 and under, with 40 per cent of older abuse victims saying that they had experienced abuse of this nature compared to 28 per cent of younger people.
This is a pattern that is replicated globally. Older women in Thailand are five times more likely than older men to have been abused by family members. Ten per cent of older women in Moldova have reported being humiliated or threatened. And of course, the form this abuse takes can be specific to particular cultures. A 2011 survey in Mozambique found that 21 per cent of older women had suffered abuse as a result of witchcraft accusations.
Last year, we worked with our client Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) to highlight this issue – including creating a blog for Huffington Post to highlight the abuse of older women in the UK, question why victims so often slip through the gaps between services and signpost what people can do to help.
Read more about our campaigning work with Action on Elder Abuse, and how we’re nudging policy makers towards changing legislation to better serve victims of elder abuse here.