Age and Ageism –a change in attitudes and new protection laws – An article by past SI United Nations Representative, Vienna, Dora Vrdlovec
“Age discrimination is a widespread phenomenon: in all countries of the world older people may endure physical, sexual, psychological, verbal or financial violence; it may take place both in people’s homes and/ or in public settings such as urban spaces, health services, care homes, etc.
The lack of societal awareness about age often leaves elder abuse and the victims of this crime invisible. Older people, especially older women, suffer abuse and violence most often in silence. Their state of powerless and resignation prevents them from speaking out about what is happening to them. They do not report the abuse knowing that on account of their age they will not be heard by the police or authorities. As consequences of this behavior, elderly women are at risk of poverty, social isolation, poor health, unattended chronic diseases, further abuse, and violence.
The media reports that abusive situations, mostly in care homes, are becoming more frequent. Even if reported there is often little or no action, support, or changes in laws for prevention.
We often think of migration as a phenomenon mainly affecting young people, ignoring the numbers of older people that leave their countries either alone or following their families. Migration policies prioritise younger people in order to meet the needs of labour market in the countries they migrate to. Instead of considering older migrant women’s contribution to society, they are perceived as a burden. According to the Human Rights Watch, family reunifications police prioritise children and parents, separating older people and old women from their families. Exclusion makes them vulnerable to many kinds of violence. So, when thinking of violence toward older persons, we have to include, also, the many cases of older women who are left behind in their home countries. This is a double violence perpetrated on them.
The position of ageing migrants requires specific attention. In Europe, migrant women are very often dependent on their husbands when they arrive. This vulnerability may lead them to have less economic, social and health status. They may face vulnerability and domestic violence due to the stress of having to leave their home country. More relevant disaggregated data is needed regarding the situation of older women migrants and refugees to ensure no one is left behind”.
SI Where We Stand Statement HERE