Workshop on protection and support for victims of elder abuse

20 Jun, 2017

On Wednesday 14th of June 2017 Victim Support Europe co-organised a workshop on protection and support for victims of elder abuse on the occasion with AGE Platform Europe and with the support of the European Commission and the Council of Europe. AGE Platform Europe is the leading European network of non-profit organisations of and for people aged 50+, which aims to voice and promote the interests of the 190 million citizens aged 50+ in the European Union and to raise awareness on the issues that concern them most.

The workshop brought together experts on support to older people, policy makers and civil society to discuss protection and support of older people falling victim to abuse. Elder abuse, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is “a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights. It may include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. Elder abuse remains a hidden reality despite the worrying levels of prevalence across Europe. According to WHO, about 3% of older persons in Europe suffer maltreatment in the community, and this can affect up to 25% of older persons with high care needs[1]. Worldwide, estimations indicate that 1 in 10 older people suffer abuse every month.

There is a lack of precise data on forms and prevalence, as it is estimated that about 80% of cases of elder abuse are never reported[2]. Victim support services across European Union countries need to play a key role in bridging the existing gap by reaching out to victims and ensuring they are aware of the available mechanisms for protection, both through support and mediation services, and prosecution. The 2012 European Union Directive on the rights or victims of crime is a step forward towards ensuring that all European Union countries enforce in their national legislations essential standards on the rights, support and protection of victims. There is no mention of elder abuse as such in the Directive. However, the ban on any forms of discrimination in the access to rights and protection is enshrined along the text of the Directive, including the age discrimination.

The discussions were truly interesting, dynamic and fruitful, and offered opportunity for further collaborations. Victim Support Europe was honoured to sit at the table with experts on elder abuse to look at possibilities to collaborate and ensure older people who are victims get the support they need. Age Platform Europe and Victim Support Europe will continue this close partnership in the future to improve rights and victim support for older people.

The workshop marked the 12th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On this occasion, AGE published a press release that refers to our workshop and includes a quote from Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. You can consult it here.

[1] European report on preventing elder maltreatment, Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO), 2011

[2] A Global Response to Elder Abuse and Neglect: Building Primary Health Care Capacity to Deal with the Problem Worldwide: Main Report, WHO, 2008