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ISSN: 0331-4111
Volume 16, No. 2  (2018)


Sexual Abuse of Elderly Women in Southwest Nigeria: A Sociological Exposition of an Emerging Crime

Sunday S. Adedayo & Richard A. Aborisade

Department of Sociology Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Nigeria


Indeed, appreciable research has considered the dynamics of sexual assault involving young victims. However, very little criminological research has considered the dynamics of sexual abuse of elderly people. To fill this void, this current study developed a profile of sexual abuse cases among women aged 50 and older, based on the accounts of their abusers. Specifically, the study investigated the motives and mechanisms for sexual abuse of the aged in the country as well as the factors that account for the vulnerability of aged women. A sample of 21 elderly sexual abuse offenders from six prisons in Ogun and Lagos states were purposively engaged to shed some light on the nature and dimensions of sexual abuse of elderly women in the country. Results from qualitative analyses of official demographic and offence history data, and in-depth interviews of offenders challenge a couple of commonly held beliefs, assumptions and assertions about sexual abuse of elderly in literature, news journals and public discourse. As against a general belief that young men that sexually abuse older women are ‘money ritualists,’ this study found sexual violence history, mental illness, substance abuse, and sexual deviancy as factors fuelling perpetrators’ action. The majority of perpetrators were intrafamiliar offenders who are family members, neighbours, workers and associates of the victims. Offenders expressed awareness of usual non-reporting of sexual victimisation by the abused, which is a factor that encourages intrafamiliar offending. As a growing social menace in Nigeria, sexual abuse of the elderly is factored by neglect, and exposure of adults to both environmental and situational pressures. Therefore, proper caregiving, meeting of essential needs of the elderly, response from the criminal justice system and encouraging reportage of sexual victimisation are suggested.

Keywords:     Elderly women, motives and mechanisms, offenders, sexual abuse, victims

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