International Women’s Day 2024

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Published 8th March 2024

International Women’s Day 2024

Today is International Women’s Day 2024 and we’re looking back at how the abuse and homicide of older women has changed in the past year.

International Women’s Day is an important date to not only celebrate the achievements of women worldwide but also to highlight women’s issues. Unfortunately, abuse is a reality for too many women in the UK today. Hourglass helpline data reveals that 67% of calls to our helpline in 2023 were made in regards to a female victim-survivor, remaining consistent with data from 2022 in which 66% of victim-survivors were female.

This runs alongside trends reported by the Office for National Statistics, which reported that in 2023 the “percentage of women who experienced domestic abuse in the last year was significantly higher than men for the majority of age groups” including those aged 60 and over. The ONS reports that in all domestic abuse related crimes in 2023, 73.5% of victims were female.

While this indicates that the majority of older victim-survivors reported are female, this does not mean they are exclusively so and we receive calls regarding victim-survivors of all genders and identities. However, it does indicate there still is a clear trend of older female victim-survivors experiencing abuse and, in many cases, these cases can have tragic outcomes.

Last year for International Women’s Day 2023, we paid tribute to the 26 older women who were killed by men, with help from the Counting Dead Women Project blog by Karen Ingala-Smith and the Femicide Census. Almost half (46%) of victims were killed in a domestic homicide.This project lists all reported cases of female homicide committed by suspected male perpetrators year-by-year.

From the 8th March 2023 to 8th March 2024, across the UK 100 women and girls were killed in circumstances where men were the primary suspect. 17 of these women were aged over the age of 60, meaning that almost 20% of women killed in the past year were older women. Many of these cases involve a younger male suspected perpetrator, often a family member, friend or intimate partner.  Data received directly from the Femicide Census reveals that from 2017 – 2021, 162 women aged over 60 were killed by men, with 116 cases (71%) being perpetrated by family members, spouses or intimate partners.

Hourglass is the only UK-wide charity supporting older victim-survivors of abuse and neglect. In Northern Ireland since 2013, 6 women over the age of 60 were victims of homicide, 14.3% of the overall number of victims. Since 2018, 8 women over the age of 60 have been killed in Scotland. In Wales, 14 older women have been killed since 2018, 22% of the total overall victims. Like in England, the majority of these cases involve older people killed by family members or partners.

When it comes to female victims of all age groups, 67.3% of victims of domestic homicide were female contrasting with non-domestic homicides where the majority of victims over the same time period were male. While the number of older women killed by men in 2023-24 was lower than that of the previous year, it’s clear that there is still a significant problem when it comes to older female victims of abuse and the abuse of older people in general.

Some older women find it difficult to see themselves as victims of abuse and reach out for help. It may be that they have been dealing with abuse for an extended period of time and are unable to recognise the abusive situation they have been living in. They may also be unaware of the support services that are available to them, due to an under-representation of older females in the media.

For these reasons and many others, the abuse of older women and older people is often unreported and unnoticed. When abuse goes unnoticed, it can have tragic consequences which is why it’s so important to be aware of the signs, to check in with older friends and family and know that support is available. 

Older women have more options than ever before when it comes to seeking support and safety from abuse. However, older women are still not represented enough and we believe more can be done to ensure that older women feel represented and listened to in mainstream support services. That’s why Hourglass is proud to be working with Women’s Aid through the Flexible Fund, which enables older victim-survivors to receive life-saving funds to escape from their abusive situation. You can read about this fund in further detail here:

The issue of abuse in older age will be explored at our 2024 Conference on the 19th March in Brighton as we seek to explore how we can work towards a safer ageing society for all.  Tickets are still available here:

Visit our Knowledge Bank to find information and guidance on the signs of abuse and what to do if you suspect an older person is being abused.

If you need support, advice or simply a listening ear, contact our 24/7 helpline on 0808 808 8141 or visit our support page for more.

CRM – 1812 contacts, designated victim and female in 2023, 873 contacts designated victim and male in 2023.