It is widely known that older women are at lesser risk for sexual violence than younger women, but current inattention to older women in the gender-based violence (GBV) field has minimized the experiences of older women survivors at great detriment to their health and rights. For example, health providers seldom ask older women about their sexual activity and relationships, a neglect that leads to older women being excluded from necessary HIV testing and care as well as support services for abuse. This oversight is increasingly worrisome given the rise in new HIV infections among adults age 50 and older in recent years, with the majority of transmissions stemming from individuals unaware of their HIV-positive status. Building on sexual rights scholarship, this paper argues for an approach to public health interventions for GBV and HIV that acknowledges older women – their sexuality, sexual agency, and activity – so that health providers and advocates acknowledge and serve older survivors.
Gender-Based Violence and HIV across the Life Course: Adopting a Sexual Rights Framework to Include Older Women
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