On International Women’s Day – 96 year old Queensland woman, Margarita Solis, will launch a National Campaign focused on listening to older women.

The Campaign includes Solis’s strategies for listening to older women; a social media campaign for International Women’s Day and a survey about the experiences of listening.

Solis is Australia’s first (and still the only) older woman (65+) to publicly share her story of sexual abuse/assault. Solis featured in a short film about her assault by a service provider and how her life was transformed by those who listened to her.

#SheToo recognises that the #MeToo movement empowered women who already had a degree of empowerment such as social media access, independence from the perpetrator, speech/communication and cognitive abilities.

However, some older women cannot speak up – and many who do report that they are not heard or believed. There is likely to be significant under reporting of sexual abuse – which is not surprising given our failure to listen to older women.

The most recent Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act noted 547 reports of ‘alleged or suspected unlawful sexual contact’ in residential aged care.

  • Prevalence of sexual abuse/assault of older women by intimate partners and other family members is also likely to be high given that
  • 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual assault
  • Old age is not a protective factor against sexual assault

Many older women were married in the context of marital rape immunity laws The #SheToo Campaign is coordinated by the OPAL Institute (part of the Celebrate Ageing Program) in collaboration with: Senior’s Rights Service in NSW; Aged and Disability AdvocacyAustralia; CASA Forum Victoria and the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence.

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