Rights expert calls for action to tackle elder abuse

Claudia Mahler, The UN’s independent expert on the exploitation of all human rights for the elderlymade the appeal in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She said Elder abuse remains untreated despite being widespread, widespread and putting millions of older people at risk, in the midst of a rapidly aging world.

Not a priority

“Combating abuse in old age is not a priority at the national, regional or global level,” she added.

Mrs. Mahler cited information from the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that one in six older people have experienced some form of violence.

In her report, she noted that violence, neglect and abuse in old age have far-reaching consequences for both mental and physical well-being, underscoring the need for appropriate interventions and solutions.

Cases increase in crises

“An increase in violence against the elderly was noted during ongoing crises such as COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in armed conflicts and the consequences of climate change,” she said.

“Crises lead to economic setbacks that put more pressure on support structures worldwide, which in turn can put more older people at risk of suffering acts of violence.”

While there is currently no globally accepted definition of “elder abuse,” she said five forms of abuse can be identified: physical; psychological or emotional; sexual; financial or material; and neglect.

Ageism fuels abuse

Ms Mahler also recognized hate speech as an additional form of abuse against older persons.

“Ageism plays a significant role and risk factor in the prevalence of substance abuse in older people,” she said.

“Negative stereotypes and bias underlie the concept of ageism and can lead to harmful consequences, including violence against and abuse and neglect of older people.”

Prevent and protect

Ms. Mahler’s report identifies several measures to prevent and protect against elder abuse, including legislative and policy interventions, prevention programs, provision of age-appropriate community services, law enforcement, and access to justice.

She also called for the effective collection and analysis of data on the prevalence of violence, abuse and neglect.

“Such data are essential to provide a unified understanding of the problem. The diversity of older people should be integrated into data collection methods and protocols,” she recommended.

Independent voices

Independent experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor specific country situations and thematic issues.

They work on a voluntary basis. serve in their individual capacity and are independent of any government or organization.

The experts are not UN employees and do not receive payment for their work.

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