“Older women face triple jeopardy in that they are part of three different marginalised groups: they are elderly, abused, and female. Gender discrimination across the lifespan therefore has a cumulative effective, and neglect, abuse and violence across the lifespan results in a high lifetime rate of suffering from abuse for older women.”
-WHOSEFVA (Working with Healthcare Organizations to Support Elderly Female Victims  of Abuse) Project

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Although violence against and murder of older women is a widespread phenomenon across the world, it receives little targeted attention. The simple fact that women get older than men, and as a result must live alone longer, makes them more vulnerable to exploitation, fraud, robbery and even physical abuse. As such, the abuse and femicide of older women is one of the most widespread unpunished crimes, affecting women of all backgrounds, cultures and countries. In many societies, elderly widows are physically and mentally abused, robbed of their right to inherit their assets – eventually losing their societal status. Due to poor education and no independent income, they are financially insecure and dependent on their children or relatives.

FEMICIDE Volume VIII aims to analyse the ways in which women, over the age of 55, are psychologically and physically mistreated all around the globe, often resulting in death.

For this issue of FEMICIDE, we are extremely grateful to academic researchers Prof. Myrna Dawson, Prof. Janice Joseph, Garima Jain, Prof. Shalva Weil, Dr. Marie-Antoinette Sossou and Dr. Joseph Yogtiba, and the Prevalence study of violence and abuse against older women (AVOW) Team for their reports on the abuse and femicide of older women in Canada, African countries, India, Israel, Austria, Ghana, Belgium, Finland, Lithuania and Portugal, respectively. We would also like to express our gratitude to Feminicidio.net and Women’s Aid who have, again, provided us with reports covering Spain and the UK.

In May 2017, during the 26th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria, the ACUNS Femicide Team arranged a High Level and Side Event during the conference. Both events focused on data collection practices of femicides, with speakers from UN Agencies and Offices, Permanent Missions, NGOs and academic researchers. The events were well attended and filled with dynamic discussion. Moreover, the following resolution was adopted:

“The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice … Also urges Member States to take measures to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish acts of violence against women and girls, in particular gender-related killing, in accordance with national laws, and to act at all levels to end impunity for those responsible for committing such heinous crimes against women and girls;”

 In Vienna, Austria, on November 24th, 2017, the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, a symposium will take place to raise awareness about the violence against older women. The symposium is organised by the Academic Council on the United Nations System, Organization of the Families of Asia and the Pacific (OFAP), UNODC, NGO Committee on Ageing in Vienna, NGO CSW, Soroptomist International and the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Belarus, Costa Rica, Italy, Norway, Slovenia and Spain to the International Organizations in Vienna.

The symposium will bring together stakeholders, such as international organisations, Member States, academia, civil society, including women’s organisations, to highlight the extreme violence against older women and stress the political and social responsibilities to combat these criminal acts. The key objectives will be to identify and discuss the extreme forms of violence against older women throughout the world with a focus on the most common kind of crimes and regional differences; the role of criminal justice in curbing impunity; and recommended programmes of action for national governments, international organisations, and civil society.

Extreme violence against the older woman is a global issue, which occurs in different forms in different regions. We hope that FEMICIDE VIII helps to underline the urgency of the vulnerable situation of the older woman and results in substantial changes in policy and attitudes.