Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, to be observed 15 June:
It is a disturbing and tragic fact in our world that members of the older generations are too often neglected and abused. This painful reality generally goes ignored by mainstream society. At the same time, the ageing of the world’s population has added urgency to promoting and defending the rights of older persons, who are expected to make up more than 20 per cent of the global population by 2050.
Resolved to shed light on this injustice, the United Nations General Assembly has designated 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The annual commemoration has helped to generate an emerging global discussion of a once-taboo issue as people come together to support the rights of older persons to a life free of violence and abuse.
For many, elder abuse conjures an image of a heartless caregiver who is not well-known to the victim. While this deplorable problem does persist, more often it is family members who perpetrate the violations, which include neglect as well as psychological, financial and physical abuse. Research shows that age, gender and dependency raise the risks of abuses, with women suffering the heaviest toll.
On this Day, the United Nations is joining with partners around the world to organize activities focused on finding solutions. I call on all people to support this effort.
The distressing crime of elder abuse often occurs in quiet, private settings, making a vocal, public response that much more important. Let us strengthen our resolve to end this problem as part of our broader efforts to create a life of dignity for all.