|GENEVA, June 14, 2019 -- The sexual abuse and rape of older persons is a subject rarely discussed, but nevertheless is a reality, a United Nations expert said Thursday, noting it needs more world attention.
"We must all be more attentive, and report suspected cases of abuse of older people," said the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons Rosa Kornfeld-Matte.
She was speaking ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.
Kornfeld-Matte issued a statement here in which she said most abuse goes undetected and unreported, even when there are clear warning signs.
"Sexual abuse and rape of older persons is still a taboo. It remains largely unreported and undetected and thus invisible. With the aging of our societies, this problem is expected to grow dramatically," she said.
However, without enough data, statistics and studies, it is not possible to estimate the dimensions involved.
One of the challenges of sexual abuse is the perpetuation of the myth that strangers predominantly perpetrate it.
Sadly, most abusers are family members, relatives or other confidants typically in caring positions, she said.
"This explains the inherently sensitive nature of the issue," said Kornfeld-Matte.
Despite severe health consequences, efforts to prevent and address abuse remain inadequate, she said.
"Very often, the behavior of an older person, even if they have confusion, will tell you that something is wrong," Kornfeld-Matte said.
Even with dementia, people could often make their feelings known if time was taken to "listen, observe and take notice", said the UN expert.