Older Age No Protection from Violence against Women

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, COTA Tasmania is urging people of all ages and genders to call out online disrespect towards women.

CEO Sue Leitch says sexist comments and representations of women of any age are fuel to the fire of gendered ageism that too often sees the abuse of older women ignored or overlooked.

“People sometimes think campaigns to counter violence against women online are just for young people, but nothing could be further from the truth,” said Ms Leitch.

“Disrespect and sexism are lifelong experiences for many. How terrible, then, that this burden typically becomes heavier rather than lighter with age.

“That’s why this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, COTA Tasmania is getting behind campaigns by both Our Watch and EveryAGE Counts,” says Ms Leitch.

“We are asking Tasmanians to lead by example. Call out online disrespect towards women using the Our Watch tools. When that disrespect is about older women, also counter it with a story that encourages people to think about women and ageing differently.”

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly agrees this day is an opportunity to shine a light on how we can eliminate violence against all women, including older women.

“Older women are often invisible in media and public discussion of violence against women, but they experience violence too,” she says.

“To prevent violence against women – all women – we need to address the underlying drivers of this violence, and that means tackling sexism and ageism, together.”

Our Watch Ambassador Lucy Turnbull says we all must do our part to reject ageism, and challenge disrespect and violence against women.

“As individuals, we must call out inappropriate jokes and behaviours when we see them because silence and inaction imply acceptance,” she says.

“In tandem with governments, workplaces must also work to address the superannuation and retirement gap and close the gender pay gap, which currently hovers at 9 per cent in Tasmania,” Ms Turnbull says.

“Organisations must create safe environments free from age discrimination and sexism, so women can thrive at work no matter what stage of their career they may be at,” she says

“If we all play our part, we can build the momentum needed to stop violence before it starts.”

Information, Resources and Help

  • As part of its “Doing nothing does harm” campaign, Our Watch has tools to help people of all ages counter online disrespect towards women.
  • There are 16 days between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and Human Rights Day on 10 December. In support of the international campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Our Watch has also published a comprehensive toolkit for organisations called “Do Something: 16 Days, 16 Ways”.
  • To take the EveryAGE Counts’ Pledge to speak out against ageism, go to its website, where you will also find videos and other resources.
  • For more information about elder abuse, visit Elder Abuse Tasmania and Compass.
  • COTA Tasmania’s website also has links to a range of resources and information about ageism and elder abuse.
  • Older age is no protection from the sexual abuse of women. To learn more, watch Margarita’s story on the OPAL Institute website. Margarita shared her experience so that other women would know that sexual abuse is not their fault and services are available for older survivors as well as younger women.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing elder abuse, please ring the
Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline on 1800 441 169 for free, confidential information and referrals.

If issues discussed above have caused you distress, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).