Older persons are still subjected to abuse and violence on a daily basis, UN rights experts warns

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons Photo: UNHR

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons Photo: UNHR

In May 2014, the Human Rights Council appointed Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons (HROP).

Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing.She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo highlighted the need to look at these issues from a gender perspective, age being an established contributory factor for risk of violence.

“Older women, due to their age and related physical, social and economic disadvantages are indeed particularly vulnerable to violence”, she said. “But the ways that older women’s rights are abused and the forms of violence affecting them have been so far seriously overlooked and neglected.”

“The array of forms of violence against older women, as well as the fact that this violence frequently occurs at the intersection of different types of discrimination, calls for the adoption of multidimensional strategies to effectively prevent and fight this violence,” Ms. Manjoo added.

Human rights expert Emna Aouij, who currently heads the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, noted that “violence and abuse against older women stem from multiple forms of discrimination that they may face during their lifetime.”

“Discriminatory laws and practices against women in all spheres of their political, economic, social and family lives fuel violence and abuse and must be repealed,” Ms. Aouij stressed.

The UN Independent Expert on older persons warned that “implementation and enforcement are still inadequate to prevent, criminalize and eliminate such outrageous practices against older persons.”

“It is time for effective action. Urgent action must be taken to put an end to such a pressing and global issue that destroys lives and families in all regions, in developing and developed countries,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte said, recalling the obligations on all States to eliminate elder abuse, through legislation and comprehensive policies and preventive strategies.

“On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we call on all Governments and civic society organisations to renew their commitment to fight against all forms of abuse and violence against older persons,” the human rights experts said.

On Monday 15 June, UN human rights specialists and other international experts will gather in Geneva to mark the UN World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The experts will discuss the issue of abuse and violence against older women, in an event co-organized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with civil society organizations.