Tuesday, 12 December 2017

MOOC ‘Understanding Violence against Women – Myths and Realities’

As acronyms go MOOC doesn’t roll easily off the tongue. Massive Open Online Courses harness the reach of the worldwide web to the immediacy of social media and magically turn teaching and learning into something entirely new for educators and learners alike. Developing a new MOOC ‘Understanding Violence against Women – Myths and Realities’ with my colleague Roisin McGoldrick took us into uncharted technological and pedagogical waters. With no students in front of you and no entry requirements, these free courses, covering every subject under the sun, attract learners from across the globe who might be studying at all hours of the Scottish day and night. Designing a course on VAW, a complex and at times controversial topic, for an invisible audience, was a challenge to two experienced educators used to the cut and thrust of lectures, PowerPoint, handouts and groupwork. Converting what we knew into audio-visual learning steps to capture and retain learners’ interest over a six-week period meant that most of how we did things went out the window. Knowing you are only ever one click away from internet oblivion at the best of times, teaching such a complex and highly controversial a subject required us each to find a friendly yet authoritative ‘voice’, somewhere between a pal and a mentor. I won’t even go into the whole teaching to camera business...

My long experience of teaching about violence against women has shown me that it is one of the few academic subjects where students’ personal opinions can sometimes trump all the research evidence you can throw at them. Violence against women (VAW) is so deeply interwoven in the warp and weft of world history and modern life that finding a way to unpack its complexities was our first task. We wanted to stimulate thinking and ideas around violence against women and girls and offer perspectives for people to consider. We were firmly feminist in our approach and were clear that our aim was not necessarily that everyone agreed but that we provided them with a strong foundation from which to build their learning and their own analyses. To do that we needed to introduce some serious sociological concepts such as gender, power and violence. We hoped this would help them make personal connections with underpinning theories, theoretical frameworks and the lived realities for women living with violence the world over.

Before we started on the content however we were clear we needed a clear ethical learning framework for learning. Given its high international prevalence and gendered nature, it was very likely that many of our participants would have either direct or indirect experience of violence against women and girls in private, social or public settings. We recognised that for some, this may well have influenced their decision to study the course and how they might interpret our materials. We would be covering topics which people would likely find distressing and because we were not around to have a private chat after class, we created a ‘Health Warning’ with regular reminders about the need for self-care and regular breaks to allow processing and learning. We established clear ground rules stressing the importance of being mindful of themselves and respectful of others in group discussions and in responding to other people’s posts in the online space, their sole and virtual classroom. WE stressed that personal experience is wholly that – unique and personal - and should not be used as evidence of more general points that people might wish to make. The chances of disclosures were likely to be high and we asked people only to share information about themselves that they were comfortable making available in the course’s public online platform. This request was well adhered to and might be a useful reminder for use in other public social media platforms,

“Please be sensitive to the potential for causing distress to yourself and to others in what you say and post during your time studying on this course.

We observed this in action many times. Participants contravening the ground rules were dealt with very effectively and graciously by the others in ways which were a model of pro-social, measured and well-argued rebuttals.

Each learning step of the six-week course contained short lectures, reading materials, hyperlinks, video extracts and opportunities for online discussion. There were quizzes and ‘live streams’ where people could tune into a YouTube channel and post question for us to answer live on air. We eventually got used to teaching direct to camera, to breaking learning down to small baby steps and getting to the point and sharpish! We dashed off compact articles, wandered down the vast storehouses of Shutterstock images, interviewed experts over Skype and chipped into online discussions being carried out across continents. We learned about media schedules, subtitling, editing and were fortunate in having tremendous contributions from a range of well-kent Scottish and internationally renowned experts in the VAW field and the support of a team of learning technologists and film and audio-visual specialists.

Our community of learners included survivors, a range of professionals, VAW specialists, students and people who were simply interested in exploring a new subject. Some were regular contributors to the discussion and many were not – content to learn in their own way. There is absolutely no requirement to chip in our ‘tuppenceworth’. We witnessed extraordinary moments of enlightenment as people began to make sense of their own or others’ experiences. We read with interest as people spoke of their growing confidence in their own knowledge to open up conversations about VAW with family, friends and colleagues for the first time. In an extraordinary piece of sychronicity, the Weinstein story and the #MeToo campaign broke when we were dealing with ‘Media Representations of VAW’. The chat was mighty and the analysis of the press coverage was a joy to behold in its confidence, knowledge and outrage! The pleasure of taking part in discussions with participants from every corner of the globe, of hearing their perspectives and of reaching so many people was a new one to me. The feedback since the first course ended in mid-November 2017 has been extremely positive. People connected to the issue in new ways, realised that they could play a part in preventing violence against women and many resolved at the end to take action in their own communities. The course page invites learners to join the global movement to prevent VAW. By taking part in a course like ours I believe they made a start. We explored VAW Prevention at the end of the course and when people read about the first Zero Tolerance Campaign in Scotland, the 16 Days of International Activism against VAW, One Billion Rising and White Ribbon for instance many were inspired into taking action in their own communities. Learning about VAW is an intervention and a key part of primary prevention. Knowledge is indeed power, we busted some myths and shared some realities and just maybe we have helped bring about some changes of mind. People are already signing up for the next run starting on 5 February 2018. Click here to join us.

Anni Donaldson
I am a Knowledge Exchange Fellow and Project Lead at the Equally Safe in Higher Education (ESHE) Project at the University of Strathclyde. Based in the School of Social Work and Social Policy, the ESHE Team are creating a national Gender-based Violence Prevention toolkit for use in Scottish universities. I have been working in the field of domestic abuse and violence against women research, teaching and practice development for nearly thirty years. I am a historian and am currently completing my doctoral thesis ‘An oral history of domestic abuse in Scotland 1979-1992’. I am also a blogger and journalist.



Blog: www.glasgowanni.com




Sunday, 10 December 2017

VAW 2017: Issues of Economic Safety and Economic Abuse in British South Asian Households: Reflections from an ESRC Festival of Social Science Event

by Punita Chowbey, Sheffield Hallam University
and Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Surviving Economic Abuse Charity 

Findings from a recent study (Chowbey 2017) from Sheffield Hallam University focussing on South Asian women from diverse socioeconomic and migration backgrounds revealed that there is little awareness of the issue of economic abuse. Of 84 women interviewed, 33 reported some form of economic abuse. Although many women did not recognise economic abuse as a form of 'abuse', several were fighting it in their own ways. In their fight they faced substantial barriers, such as a lack of resources, access to legal guidance and family pressure, which prevented them from seeking support.

To support South Asian women suffering from economic abuse, there is a need to understand the economic risks that threaten their economic safety on two levels. First, while anyone can experience economic hardship, systems of discrimination mean that not everyone has the same opportunities to access economic resources (money, housing, transportation, mobile phone etc.). For instance, barriers still exist which stop many women from being economically independent. The gender pay gap means that many women are paid less than men and because of their caring responsibilities they are less likely to be working, or working in part–time and low-paid work. Other risks here may be linked to other identifiers such as age, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation and citizenship status. Welfare benefits act as a safety net so that if a woman is experiencing abuse from her partner then she is able to leave and have an income. Yet the immigration status of some women means that they are unable to claim benefits, meaning they have fewer options to choose from when they try to find a place of safety.

The second type of risk occurs when an individual seeks to control over a woman’s current and future economic choices. This may be a partner or a family member. The gender discrimination which exists in society may be reflected in women’s own households: for example, men may expect to be in charge of economic resources; men may expect women to stay at home and look after the family rather than go out to work; and more economic resources may be allocated to sons than daughters. In some cases, this behaviour may be deliberate. A man may choose to control a woman’s access to economic resources to stop her from making her own choices. If a partner is abusive, he may threaten to throw her out of the house if she does not do what he says. He may prevent her from eating food or turning on the heating if she challenges a decision he has made. He may stop her from going to work and having access to money, a mobile phone or a car in order to stop her from getting help or leaving.

To engage with the community members on this subject, Sheffield Hallam University held an ESRC Festival of Social Science event on the 8th of November in Sheffield in partnership with Firvale Community Hub, formerly Pakistan Community and Advice Centre.. The event engaged members of the local community, women from South Asian background and academics and practitioners. The participants concurred with the research findings and suggested several issues as key to ending economic abuse. Their suggestions considered how economic abuse can be prevented and how those experiencing it can be supported: 
  • Parenting emerged as one of the key areas needing attention. Several participants identified the roots for economic abuse in parenting practices in South Asian families which promote gender roles that encourage economic independence for sons and housekeeping skills for daughters.
  • Participants said that parents saw sons and daughters having different economic needs. Whilst economic responsibilities towards sons are often realised through education and investment in making them financially independent, economic responsibilities towards girls involves saving for their dowry and marriage. Participants felt that this way of thinking is a big barrier in making women economically independent. 
  • Education and awareness of economic rights including inheritance rights came up as a major issue. Participants felt that there is little knowledge of economic rights among South Asian women. Several of them pointed out that women are expected to follow the inheritance rights and practices of South Asia and they knew very little about their economic rights in Britain.
  • Participants also identified the need for communities to look within themselves. Sociocultural norms can make it difficult for women to speak up and seek support. 
Finally, women should be adequately supported in reaching out to services for help to become economically stable. This may mean getting support to find employment and access benefits or tailored support if their age, sexuality, ability, ethnicity or immigration status means they have particular needs or concerns. 


Chowbey, P. (2017). Women’s narratives of economic abuse and financial strategies in Britain and South Asia. Psychology of Violence, 7(3), 459-468.

Music can help biopsy patients

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

A biospy is an invasive procedure and one which may lead to an unwelcome diagnosis. Clearly, the whole experience can be stressful for patients and, it seems, music may be helpful. This is the conclusion of a study from China by Song et al. (2017) which aimed to 'evaluate the efficacy of music therapy for reducing the anxiety and pain of patients who underwent a biopsy'. An article published in JAN from the study is titled: 'Music for reducing the anxiety and pain of patients undergoing a biopsy: a meta-analysis'. 

Nine studies were found involving over 300 patients and the results showed that: 'Music had a
tendency towards decreasing systolic blood pressure before the biopsy' and 'music also tended to be more effective for controlling pain after the biopsy'. On the basis of their findings, the authors concluded: 'The results of the meta-analysis of nine relatively small studies indicate that music intervention is an effective aid for reducing pain in patients after a biopsy. Limited to the small number and low quality of included studies, this could not be considered a conclusive statement. However, as one of the most commonly used self-help strategies, music is suitable for relieving pain during invasive procedures. We still recommend that an intervention with soft, soothing and melodious melody should be accepted by patients from arrival at the biopsy operation room up to the end of the procedure. Without any reports of adverse effects, nurses can use our findings in their practice to promote the recovery of patients after a biopsy.

You can listen to this as a podcast


Song, M., Li, N., Zhang, X., Shang, Y., Yan, L., Chu, J., Sun, R. and Xu, Y. (2017), Music for reducing the anxiety and pain of patients undergoing a biopsy: a meta-analysis. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.13509

Saturday, 9 December 2017

VAW17: Happy Ever After? My Abusive Marriage; Insights from the Front Line

by Laura

Abusive relationships aren’t abusive all the time. If they were, maybe they wouldn’t last so long. Abusive incidents occur alongside the fabulous times that all families have. Low level abuse permeates day to day life and is accepted as normality. Perceptions of what is acceptable or safe are skewed. Each time something awful happens, it’s followed by a period of ‘loving’ behaviour. Many people experiencing abuse don’t actually recognise that they are being abused until later. So that means it’s desperately hard for professionals to recognise it and to intervene appropriately.

Through this blog, I aim to share my experiences of abuse with the hope that my reflections and insight will be helpful to any health care professional, and may help them recognise signs of abuse and control in relationship.

Thankfully practice across health and social care, and the police and criminal justice services has improved considerably since my experience. I’ve worked in this area for the last 15 years. There is much more public awareness today too. But it still boils down to individual nurses, doctors, police officers and others being aware, and asking the right questions, and being prepared to intervene, offer support, take action.

As you read this, consider whether someone going through the experiences I’ve recounted here would receive a different and better response today. Would Laura and her children still live in this situation for 20 years? I have written a summary of the incident and then my reflection about the experience to highlight what could be learned from it.

Summer 1979
The first violent and aggressive row occurred; we had been going out for a few months, and I had a pre-booked holiday with a friend and her mum and dad. His unfounded allegations of me sleeping around on the holiday would subsequently be raised many times over the next 20 years. 

No agency was involved here, but I think this highlights the need for young people to receive awareness sessions in school. I had no idea this was the beginning of abusive behaviour. I thought he loved me and this was driving his unreasonable behaviour.

March 1980 
Moved in together after an argument with my mum, who didn’t like him.

Sept 1980
Married – mum said “it’s not too late” as I got ready. He hit me for the first time later that day in front of my parents. They said nothing.

Again, a greater public awareness of abuse, as there is now, might have made my Dad or Mum challenge his behaviour. It was definitely as if, because I was now married, it was not their business.

May 1981
My son was born. Husband caused a row in the hospital ward and was asked to leave. Told staff I didn’t want to go home. I was in hospital for a week.

Here was the first opportunity for a health professional to take some action. His publicly aggressive behaviour towards both me and the staff should have been a definite ‘red flag’, when I add that the row was about me breastfeeding ‘in front of’ other people, including other fathers, you see his inappropriate possessive and obsessive jealousy.

What actually happened was the porters or security staff escorted him out. Nobody said anything to me about it. So this contributed to my acceptance of it once again.

June 1983
Daughter born. Serious debt problems.

I was in contact with health visitor, GP and midwife. I didn’t have the bus fare to go to the ante-natal classes, and I told the midwife this. We were in serious debt because he was in and out of work, and would spend money on cigarettes and alcohol when we had it. She didn’t question me more about finances, maybe she could have just asked if we were getting all our benefits, or asked if I wanted to talk to someone about my money worries. I was very stressed and worried all the time.
March 1984
Pregnant again despite being on minipill as was breastfeeding. Was pressured into an abortion. Kept this secret from everyone except him. Had to deliver baby as it was at 12 weeks gestation. No support, counselling or follow up. Was never spoken to alone. 

I didn’t even think of an abortion. It went completely against my values. Especially so far on. My husband just said we had to ‘get rid of it’ immediately I told him. We were interviewed by two doctors. At one point he got angry with the doctor, who was trying to dissuade us, and said ‘ok then you can look after it when it’s born’. I sat in silence throughout. I firmly believe they signed it because of him being aggressive.

Many incidents not reported to police or any agency. Increasingly violent. He was drinking a lot. School teacher said to my daughter ‘ we know what your dad’s like’ I didn’t find this out till long after I had left him. 

This is a pattern of escalation, then an incident, then a ‘honeymoon’ period. That a teacher had picked up on his attitude through contact with him shows this spilled over sometimes into public exchanges. But for the most part he was able to control his behaviour in public.
He decided he wanted to work with children, and to foster. Went through all the assessments and were accepted. Around same time he secured a job with Children’s Social Care as a Social Work Assistant. 

After years in the building trade, no qualifications and poor literacy, this seemed a tall order. He began to volunteer as a sessional worker for social care. Mainly driving children for contact visits etc. He became particularly close to one child. He wanted to foster him. So we went through the process. Always seen together. We were accepted and the young lad was placed with us. In a strange way this was a period when his behaviour improved. It lasted 6 months.

Increasingly bad outbursts smashing things, throwing plates, often in front of children. I had nightmares and sleep disturbances. Neighbours complained about noise. 

Visited GP. He came into the consultation with me and told my GP I needed sleeping pills as he was not getting any sleep! I left with a prescription for Dothiapin, a bottle of 40 tablets was given to me. 

A very clear chance for a medical professional to intervene. He did not ask any questions, and did not ask my husband to wait outside. He focused on the practical, medical issue, lack of and disturbed sleep, and not what might be causing it. The prescription was a completely inappropriate and excessive response.

A few days later after yet another incident I took them all in one go and went to bed. He somehow knew and found the bottle hidden at the bottom of the waste bin and called ambulance. I was lucky to survive, had stomach pumped. Stayed in hospital overnight and saw a psychiatrist next day. I told psych I was sorry, didn’t mean it, and wouldn’t do it again, was happily married. He released me with no further action.

I came out of the room, and when we got outside husband accused me of having sex with the psychiatrist.

I was instructed to never mention it again, the children were in their early teens but were just told not to mention it. I never told anyone for years. This was Sunday. I returned to work Monday, and it was never mentioned again.

So many opportunities over this 24 hour period. First the ambulance crew, perhaps they took in what was happening in the house. Saw the children’s fear, I don’t know. But they didn’t say anything.

As I was having my stomach pumped I recall a male nurse talking to me and telling me I could get help. I couldn’t take it in. Offers of help need to be timely.

The next morning, I fobbed off the psychiatrist who clearly just wanted to discharge me. He never notified my GP – or if he did the GP never acted on the information. I find this shocking; it was a serious, life threatening overdose. I meant it. I returned home to the continuing abuse.

Very violent incident after which I left but returned later to sort it out with him. 

After all these years, and the tacit acceptance by everyone of what was happening, I didn’t feel I had any options, but to sort it out. He convinced me that no one would believe me, and that he would take the children from me. He was now a respected staff member in social services.

After a horrendous Christmas and new year, I was trying to work out how I could leave. On returning to work I asked my boss at work for help, whose reply was “it can’t be that bad!” on the basis that he knew him. 

Whatever employer it is, managers should be trained to respond to disclosures of domestic abuse appropriately. This was an actual appeal for help, I went home for another couple of years.

Another awful holiday at Christmas again. I walked out on New Year´s Eve. 

It was over.

The clues were there throughout those 20 years. I never recognised any of the above as abuse, until about a year after I left him.


‘Laura’ left school at 18, and worked in a bank until her first child was born. She returned to full time work in 1987 and worked for 30 years in various public sector roles. She graduated from the Open University in 2008, with a degree in Social Policy and Criminology. For the last 15 years she worked for a local authority, eventually as a Senior Manager responsible for domestic and sexual abuse services. She remarried in 2006, and has now retired from full time work so enjoys spending more time with her family especially her three grand-daughters.

Friday, 8 December 2017

VAW 2017: Violence for the Sake of Saving Family Honour is a Crime not a Culture

by Sadiq Bhanbhro

Honour has been a central concept across societies throughout history. It has been attributed as an underlying reason of horrible types of violence, for example, duelling in England, foot binding in China and wife burning (sati) in India.

Violence against women and girls in the name of defending supposed honour of an individual, family, clan or community is increasing in many parts of the world. Nearly 1100 women were killed in the name of honour in Pakistan; more than 1000 cases of honour killings reported in India and more than 11,000 incidents of honour crimes were recorded by United Kingdom police forces from 2010 to 2014.

Honour based violence or honour crimes are umbrella terms, which include a range of harmful practices committed using the pretext of honour such as: domestic abuse; violence or death threats; sexual and psychological abuse; acid attacks; forced marriage; forced suicide; forced abortion; female genital mutilation; assault; blackmail; marrying without consent and being held against one's will. Killing or attempted killing of a woman or a girl (mainly), a man or a boy (in some cases) in the name of saving or restoring honour of a family, clan or community (commonly known as honour killing) is an extreme form of honour based violence.

The term 'honour killing' has a long history but gained currency in late 1990s, as a label used within activism, research, and scholarship associated with the killing of women and girls, mainly in Muslim communities in their own countries and migrants in Europe and America. Since then, there has been much discussion and debate around the subject. In recent years, media, human rights groups and scholars including philosophers have marked honour crimes as a culturally specific category of violence, distinct from other prevalent types of violence against women such as domestic, intimate partner violence and crime of passion.

In the 'cultural explanation' of honour crimes, the culture and traditions of the particular communities are taken as causes of the criminal violence. Hence, the cultural classification not only stigmatise particular act of violence but entire culture of communities (Abu-Lughod, 2015). In addition, the term honour combined with violence and killings assumes that violence, in particular against women, is culturally sensitive—a sensitivity that allows the perpetrator to use further coercion to prevent the victim from seeking help and to intimidate the agencies of the state to stop them from pursuing and prosecuting these violent crimes.

The existing account of honour crimes have created hurdles to address this problem by making it a hypersensitive issue, stigmatising and stereotyping certain cultures, religions and regions and in western countries mainly black and ethnic minority groups (Bhanbhro, Chavez, & Lusambili, 2016). When honour related violence is dismissed as a cultural issue, communities in which it prevails are stigmatised (Ewing, 2008) and those who suffer violence also face their suffering being brushed off as a cultural problem. While, some scholars argue that it is necessary to be mindful while analysing and understating violence against women in cultural terms; as cultural understating and representation of violence conceal more pressing and central structures of violence affecting women and political processes that shape it; in those parts of world where usually culture is blamed for such violence (Abu-Lughod, 2011 & Shah, 2007).

This doesn't mean that the cultural has nothing to do with honour based violence, it does; but the cultural explanation masks the other wider social, political and economic structures and ideologies behind violence against women and girls. In fact, violence against women and girls is a widespread problem in all societies around the world – but its manifestations and extent differ widely according to place, time and context. For instance, recent census figures show 900 women were killed by men in six years in England and Wales. There is no cultural explanation behind these killings, but one thing is common in all sorts of violence against women and girls, and that is patriarchal mind-set. This is widespread and rooted in all layers across societies. Men have created self-serving tools to protect and promote this outdated patriarchal system. They have invented and formalised extremely restrictive codes of behaviour for females - gender based arrangements to restrict women's mobility, speech and sexuality, specific forms of family and kinship, perceptions and expectations for women's conduct. Above all a powerful ideology of honour has been tied to womenfolk, which is used as an excuse for honour killings. These all devices are created and managed by men to treat women as objects to use for their own purposes. Hence, if a woman's behaviour or action is seen to threaten the patriarchal order, she is ought to be punished and that punishment could be her murder.

Besides, a poor understanding of the context and narratives behind honour killings-such as social, religious, cultural and class structures- could contribute to unreliable assessments and analysis of the issue, in turn vague solutions could be suggested. Moreover, perspectives of the communities where honour killings believed to occur have been afforded less attention. Therefore, a public health approach to the issue could include creating a definition of the problem that is unprejudiced and inclusive. This is because if it is seen as problem that can affect anybody, rather than just one part of a community it will be treated more seriously by the police, judiciary, social and healthcare professionals.


Abu-Lughod, L. (2015). Do Muslim women need savings? London: Harvard University Press.

Bhanbhro, S., Chavez, A., & Lusambili, A. (2016). Honour based violence as a public health problem: critical review of literature. International journal of Human Rights in Healthcare 9:198 - 215.

Ewing, K. P. (2008). Stolen honour: Stigmatizing Muslim Men in Berlin. California: Stanford University Press.

Abu-Lughod, L. (2011). Seductions of the "honour crime". Differences 22:17-63.

Shah, N. (2007). Making of crime, customs and culture: the case of karo kari killings of upper Sindh. In Scratching the surface: democracy, traditions, gender. Bennett, J. eds. Pp. 135-154. Lahore: Heinrich Böll Foundation.


Sadiq Bhanbhro is a Research Fellow in Disparities and Global Perspectives in Health and Wellbeing at Sheffield Hallam University. He is a trained social anthropologist and a public health professional with research interests in social and political determinants of health including gender, sexuality and violence.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

VAW17: Hidden Mistreatment of marginalized older Pakistani women in the UK

by Ashfaque Talpur

While the mistreatment of older people has received little attention in academia and by the public, the well-researched area of domestic violence also lacks adequate acknowledgement of violence against older women. Evidence confirms that older women are twice as likely to face mistreatment than older men. In the UK, a prevalence survey of elder abuse and neglect reported that 3.8% of women experienced mistreatment compared to 1.1% of men in the past year. Unfortunately, there is no study on the prevalence of elder mistreatment specific to ethnic minority groups; however, many studies indicate that marginalised Pakistani older women are at highest risk of mistreatment.

Language, education, status in culture and religion, and acceptance in society are some of the many factors that increase the vulnerability of older Pakistani women to violence and mistreatment. Many Pakistani women, when they first arrived in the UK, accompanying their husband, came here as dependants with no or limited education and a mindset to run the household and raise the children. This is based on my PhD research study. Many of these young women, turned older today, voiced that their limited ability to speak English, having no formal education, and restrictions on the mobility sanctioned by their partners deprived them of the outside world and had left them as isolated and a very vulnerable person. Besides, there are many other factors that limited older Pakistani women from interacting and mingling with the host communities such as differences in culture, lifestyle, and Islamophobia in the society. For many older Pakistani women, however, it is not all about interacting and mingling with the host communities, it is the loss of the well-developed and close-knit social support network that they had in Pakistan, they feel uprooted of and they are missing it here in the UK. This isolation and loneliness is leaving many older Pakistani women marginalized and vulnerable to mistreatment.

When asked which gender is more likely to face mistreatment? The answer often was: ‘who is more likely to live longer’. Not only do women live longer, they are also likely to suffer from long-term health conditions contributing to their dependence and vulnerability. Many older Pakistan women are not only living longer, but are living alone too, and the death of their partner, depending on children or others, and limited exposure to the outside world adds to the challenges they face in day to day life. Many studies confirm a higher rate of violence and mistreatment against dependent and weak women, where the perpetrator is more likely the offspring. In addition, the stereotypes among health and social service provider, such as “they look after their own” and “myths of return” darkens the spotlight on them in the mainstream care provision.

Apart from the risk of vulnerabilities, the barriers in reporting, such as acceptance of violence, language, and family pressures leaves older vulnerable women with no options than to embrace the violence and mistreatment. This lays a huge responsibility on service providers, community members, researchers and policy makers to understand, explore, and intervene appropriately to address the issue and empower and strengthen the support for weakened and marginalised Pakistan older women.


Ashfaque Talpur is a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Sheffield. He is working on older mistreatment in Pakistani communities. He also holds a master degree in Public Health, from The University of Sheffield. Ashfaque is interested in academic research related to adult safeguarding, BME groups, health and wellbeing, and sexual health among young people.