A University of Brighton academic is working with researchers in the UK and Japan to investigate and raise awareness of the domestic abuse of older women. The aim is to address the gap in knowledge on domestic elder abuse by investigating the experiences of researchers and practitioners in both countries.
Dr Paula Wilcox, principal lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science, travelled to Kobe, Japan to attend the 16th World Congress of the International Society for Criminology and gave a paper entitled Through the Lens of Gender: Domestic Abuse of Older Women in England and Japan. Dr Wilcox met with her research project partners from Tokiwa International Victimology Institute (TIVI).
Dr Wilcox said: "Despite legislative reforms to prevent, protect and provide for the survivors of domestic abuse, elder abuse in the home continues to lurk at the margins of much mainstream debate on domestic violence and family abuse.
"Domestic elder abuse in particular has become a pressing concern in the UK, where policy on care has been shifting away from the traditional approach of a network of welfare services, towards care in the family. Conversely, in Japan, policy on care for the elderly is moving away from the family towards institutional nursing care. A breaking of the taboo of violence against elderly women is crucial."
A recent Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Report (2009) revealed that the annual number of reported elder abuse cases in domestic settings in Japan was 21,692 as compared with 451 in nursing facilities. This divergence of policies between the two countries provides the focus for Dr Wilcox's paper.
The project with TIVI aims to map the contours of the problem in the UK as compared with Japan, analyse and compare legislation and policies, capture existing practices in the UK for working with victims and perpetrators of domestic elder abuse and identify topics in need of further research. Emphasising the value of this research Dr Wilcox added: "Responding to the needs of the elderly will ultimately affect us all."