Experts Demand Data on Gender-Based Violence Against Older Persons

June 14, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)—through its President and Rapporteur on the Rights of Older Persons Margarette May Macaulay—supports the joint statement issued by a group of experts to mark the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The statement was signed by Claudia Mahler (independent expert on the human rights of older persons); Víctor Madrigal-Borloz (independent expert on protection from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity); Dorothy Estrada Tanck, Ivana Radačić, Elizabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane, and Melissa Upreti (members of the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls); Gerard Quinn (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities); and Ana Peláez Narváez (chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women). In their statement, these experts urge States to gather reliable data on the gender-based violence suffered by older persons, as well as on its impact on violations of their human rights.

There are few systematized statistics available regarding gender-based violence, abuse, and ill-treatment against older persons. This joint statement suggests that age-based discrimination (known as ageism) contributes to an increase in the risk of violence and abuse faced by older women, particularly those who have disabilities, including physical, psychological, verbal, and financial abuse and violence, social isolation, and exclusion. There is also a major lack of data on gender-based violence against older women who are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex. While some information has been collected about older persons with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, these statistics are often not disaggregated by gender, which makes these older women totally invisible.

The experts who signed the joint statement ask international organizations, offices in charge of State statistics, media outlets, and other key stakeholders to commit to producing information that is conducive to the eradication of gender-based violence against older persons and enables the adoption of evidence-based public policies in this field.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 119/23

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