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“Tomorrow it may well be you” – UN rights expert calls on everyone to report elder abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June 2016

GENEVA (14 June 2016) – Speaking ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day*, on 15 June, the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, warns that insufficient action is being taken to stop elder abuse around the world.

Ms. Kornfeld-Matte calls on everyone who suspects a case of elder abuse to immediately report this widespread and serious human rights violation of older persons.

“One in ten older persons experience abuse every month. So, tomorrow it may well be you.
 
Elder abuse occurs anywhere in institutional settings, but often also at home, and it affects older persons across all socio-economic groups. Manifestations include physical violence, sexual or emotional abuse, abandonment, and neglect, as well as financial or material exploitation.
 
One of the reasons for lack of action is that most people would rather not think of themselves as frail and dependent and, therefore, do not feel concerned. For others, it may be inconceivable that those who are closest to them today -their beloved ones- may be the perpetrators of tomorrow.

Those concerned -the older persons who are physically restrained, left in soiled clothes, overmedicated or emotionally neglected- may not speak up for fear of reprisals or to protect relatives from criminal prosecution.

Most cases of elder abuse go undetected and prevalence rates are likely to be underestimated. It is therefore essential to continue to raise awareness to help prevent some abuse cases and to ensure that those that take place are immediately reported.

Warning signs can include unexplained bruises, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration, unexplained changes of alertness and sudden changes in finances and accounts.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I urge everyone who suspects a case of elder abuse: report your concerns.”

(*) In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 15 June as the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is marked annually.

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. 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. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/IE/Pages/IEOlderPersons.aspx

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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