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Violence against older women

In Mozambique, 62% of older women surveyed had experienced some form of abuse in the past 6 months (2011). This broke down to: economic abuse (47%) emotional and psychological abuse (37%), witchcraft accusations (21%), physical abuse (11%) and sexual abuse (5%). Only 3 out of 10 older women officialy report such cases. [1]

2,585 older women were killed in Tanzania in 2009 after being accused of being a witch. In Mwanza region alone, 698 older women were killed; that is two killings every two-three days. [2]

A study on intimate partner violence against older women found that the older the woman is, the harder it is to cope and engage in help-seeking behaviour. [3]

28.1% of older women in Finland, Austria, Belgium, Lithuania and Portugal, experienced some kind of violence or abuse in 2011. In most cases perpetrators of the abuse were partners/spouses but older women were also abused by their adult children or children-in-law.[4]

83% of women surveyed in Peru, reported experiencing at least one form of violence or abuse since the age of 50. In Mozambique this was 75%, and in Kyrgyzstan it was 39%. [5]

14% of older women surveyed in Moldova, in 2016, had been humiliated or threatened.  10% had been victims of financial abuse and 4.5% had been subjected to physical violence. [6]

Older women in Thailand are 5 times more likely than older men to have been absued by family members. [8]

Sexual violence and older women

5% of older women in Mozambique reported experiencing sexual abuse to a HelpAge survey in 2011. [1] 

3.1% of older women in Finland, Austria, Belgium, Lithuania and Portugal, experienced sexual violence in 2011, according to an EU Prevalence Study. [4]

A 2010 study in DRC showed that 15% of people seeking help after experiencing sexual violence were over 55. Women over 49 experienced rates of sexual violence on par with the rest of the population, despite representing less than 10% of the overall population. [7]

A 2013 meta study showed that only 17% of sexual violence studies worldwide took women aged over 49 into account. Most surveys on violence against women are carried out on women aged 15 - 49 years and therefore exclude older women. [13]

The inadequate global response to violence against older women

Of 131 government reports on violence against women, only 13 recognised that older women were also at risk of violence. [9]

A 2013 UN report highlighted the fact that domestic violence legislation does not, in general, specifically include older women. [10]

Many countries have no domestic violence legislation at all (for example Kenya, Tunisia, Myanmar and the Russian Federation)Those that do, often exclude economic violence - a form of violence that women are often subjected to in older age. [11]

Only 17% of 133 countries reported any survey data on elder abuse in 2014. Only 34% have services in place that can investigate cases of elder abuse and only 59% have laws to prevent elder abuse. [12]

Only 17% of sexual violence studies worldwide took women aged over 49 into account, in 2013. Most surveys on violence against women are carried out on women aged 15 - 49 years and therefore exclude older women. [13]


Sources:

  1. Machafa S, Violence and violation of rights against older women, HelpAge International, December 2011
  2. Data from police reports, February 2009, extracted from the media by the Legal Human Rights Centre, Tanzania
  3. Nagele B et al, Intimate Partner Violence Against Older Women, 2010, page 62-63
  4. Daphne III AVOW study quoted in UNDESA, Neglect, Abuse and Violence Against Older Women, 2013, page 12
  5. HelpAge International, Developing an indicator-based framework for monitoring older people's human rights: panel, survey and key findings for Peru, Mozambique and Kyrgyzstan, 2012
  6. HelpAge International, Breaking the silence: Elder abuse in the Republic of Moldova, 2016
  7. “Now the World Is Without Me”: An investigation of sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, A Report by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative With Support from Oxfam America, April 2010
  8. Chompund, M, Charoenyooth, C, &Palmer, MH, “Prevalence, associated factors and predictors of elder abuse in Thailand”, Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research, 14(1), pages 283-296
  9. E/CN.6/2015/NGO/258  
  10. Neglect, Abuse and Violence against Older Women, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2013
  11. The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law online database: 
  12. WHO, UNODC, UNDP , Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014 
  13. WHO,  Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women, 2013, page 16

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Last updated: Aug 09 2018

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