Researchers help to find ways to represent the interests of elderly victims of violence

Researchers of the University of Tartu participate in a joint project of six countries, which aims to raise the capability of organisations dealing with domestic violence in representing the interests of elderly victims of abuse in the health care system and politics.

Violence against the elderly is a global problem, which is related with the problem areas of human rights, gender equality, domestic violence and population ageing. A great concern is the lack of gender balance among the elderly, so the majority of the elderly are women who are particularly vulnerable to risks. 

The two-year European Union project “WHOSEFVA – Working with Healthcare Organizations to Support Elderly Female Victims of Abuse” (2017-2018) focuses on elderly women who are also victims of violence. Project partners want to draw public attention to the main obstacles and deficiencies that prevent health care organisations from acting effectively in helping elderly victims of domestic violence.

Pille Tsopp, the manager of the leading partner of the project, Tartu Women’s Support and Information Centre, said that additional finances are needed for more effective identification of elderly victims of domestic violence, and the identification of victims is just the first step in the process. “Practice shows that even if we succeed in identifying elderly victims of violence, they are often left without the necessary help. The main reason lies in the fact that the victims are affected by several simultaneous long-term dependence relationships. In addition, they have different health problems and they are financially dependent. In this situation, health care professionals form a very important support system for those who need help, and offer different possibilities for identifying victims of violence and for their future assistance,” said Tsopp.

In the course of the WHOSEFVA project the participants work out training materials that help organisations dealing with violence against women in cooperation with other health care providers. Experienced experts will also lead training courses, which provide partner organisations with necessary information and skills for conducting thematic workshops. In the partner countries, training courses for health and social care professionals are held to prepare the medical professionals for the effective use of the training materials. Training materials will be made available on the project’s home page in English and are also published in Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek and Latvian.

Researchers of the University of Tartu have several important tasks in the WHOSEFVA project. “We lead the web-based training programme, because Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies has significant experience in developing different online courses. In addition, we have the role of an external evaluator, which involves the evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of the project in the course of different actions. We are also responsible for the political analysis of the project and we train and consult partner organisations in how to raise public awareness in the society,” lecturer of Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies Hector Pagan introduced the role of the University of Tartu in the project.

The partner countries participating in the project are Austria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia and Great Britain. The leading partner is Women’s Support and Information Centre in Estonia. The centre cooperates closely with the expert Sirkka Perttu, who deals with the issue of violence against the elderly in Finland.

The programme is funded by the Daphne programme of the European Commission.

Additional information:
Hector Charles Pagan, lecturer of UT Johan Skytte Institute of Polictical Science, 737 6582, hector.pagan@ut.ee
Pille Tsopp, manager of Tartu Women’s Support and Information Centre, 5594 9496, info@naistetugi.ee

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