Combatting Abuse: WHO's Focus on Elderly Women & Disabled Women

Image depicting a WHO report urging action on violence against vulnerable women, emphasizing the focus on elderly women and women with disabilities.
Combatting Abuse: WHO's Focus on Elderly Women & Disabled Women

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently shed light on the heightened vulnerability of elderly women and women with disabilities to various forms of abuse. Despite the prevalence of this issue globally, it often remains concealed due to inadequate data and underreporting.

Understanding Violence Against Older Women and Women with Disabilities:

  • Scope of the Problem: Violence against elderly women and women with disabilities knows no borders and encompasses physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse. In addition to typical forms of violence, these groups are particularly susceptible to coercion, neglect, and financial exploitation.
  • Barriers to Reporting: Various factors contribute to underreporting, including social isolation, negative stereotypes, and physical or cognitive impairments that hinder seeking help.

Impact of Violence on Well-being:

Physical and Mental Health: Victims of abuse suffer from physical injuries, chronic pain, as well as mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Challenges in Addressing Violence:

  • Awareness and Training: Healthcare professionals, caregivers, and law enforcement often lack awareness and adequate training to identify and address violence against these vulnerable groups.
  • Accessibility to Support Services: Limited accessibility to support services and shelters tailored to the needs of elderly women and women with disabilities exacerbates the problem.

Recommendations by WHO:

  • Data Collection: WHO suggests extending survey participation to capture experiences of older women and incorporating questions on various forms of violence and disabilities.
  • Inclusive Approach: Engaging representative organizations and ensuring survey accessibility through formats like Braille or EasyRead.
  • Targeted Interventions: Developing specialized interventions and support services, along with training for relevant stakeholders, is crucial.

Global Initiatives and Best Practices:

  • UNCRPD: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities emphasizes protecting individuals from all forms of violence and abuse.
  • Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing: Recognizing the need to address violence against older persons, particularly women.
  • Elder Abuse Prevention Toolkit: INPEA's toolkit provides guidance on preventing and responding to elder abuse.

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