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The scandal of men killing older women

Well, I suppose I should write a comment or two on that interview that’s been hitting the headlines. But I think not.

Instead, this is about the 278 older women, 60 plus, who have been killed by men between 2009 and 2018. On Sunday March 7th the Observer newspaper launched a campaign to end femicide, citing these horrifying statistics as the reason for starting it. The campaign aims to ask the government formally to name this serious issue as men killing women, to know and understand the data, and to stop it happening through developing a long term strategy to tackle femicide and all forms of men’s violence against women and girls.

The Femicide Census reported in the paper tells us that in 195 of the 278 cases, the women were killed by a partner or relative including 66 sons.

This focus on older women is telling as I have written before about one of the most common profiles of an adult safeguarding referral – a woman aged 65, living and abused at home. In spite of this, the Observer article suggested that police and other organisations’ assessment tools are modelled on the experiences of younger women and then described how, as a consequence, many cases were dismissed as accidents, or were not fully investigated. One commentator said:

‘Once a woman reaches 60, the response from agencies and families to abuse is completely different. That’s a violation of older women’s human rights. It denies them justice.’

The concern is that some deaths are going unnoticed and attributed to causes other deliberate killing. The wrong medication, the denial of food and drink, keeping windows in winter, general frailty and vulnerability. Shockingly a survey in 2020 commissioned by Hourglass (previously Action on Elder Abuse) found that 30% of respondents from the general public did not view harmful behaviour towards older people such as hitting, as abuse.

The campaign is concerned that ageism, stereotyping, underfunding and ignorance is contributing to this growth in the number of older women killed by men. As a church with a membership demographic that propels us to the heart of this issue, we would do well to see what contribution we could make to furthering the aims of this campaign. If you want to know more here is a link to the feature:

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