Beaten in Mind, Body & Spirit – HelpAge India’s 2014 Elder Abuse Report

by HelpAge India June 13, 2014 0 comments

Elder Abuse rate spikes up to 50%, more than double from last year.

Today, just two days before “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15)” HelpAge India releases its report on Elder Abuse in India (2014) revealing an alarming growth of Elder Abuse in our nation.

Shooting to a disturbing 50% of elders experiencing abuse, from last year’s 23%, the report findings indicates an unsettling future for India’s elderly. Women seemed to be more vulnerable with 52% women facing abuse as against 48% men.

The HelpAge research report pans 12 cities across 8 states, with a sample size of 1200 elders covering both Metro (Tier I) and Non-Metro (Tier II) cities. It aims to find out the existence of Elder Abuse, the reasons for its occurrence, its extent and what as per elderly were the most effective measures to deal with the problem.

What was most disconcerting, was that the Abuser was a trusted source from within the elders family, with the Daughter-in-law (61%) and Son (59%) emerging as the topmost perpetrators. A trend that is continuing from the previous years. Not surprisingly, 77% of those surveyed, live with their families. An unsuspecting entry amongst the top 3 Abusers is now the Daughter as well.

Though the national capital, Delhi, ranked the lowest in Elder Abuse with 22% amongst Tier I cities, it also indicated a marginal increase of the same from 20% last year, showing a slow but disturbing growth. Bengaluru ranked the highest at 75% within the Tier I cities surveyed, while in the Tier II cities Kanpur was the lowest (13%) and Nagpur highest at 85%.

Verbal Abuse (41%), Disrespect (33%) and Neglect (29%) were ranked as the most common Types of Abuse experienced by the elderly.
While abuse has gone up, unfortunately still 41% of those abused, did Not report the matter to anyone. “Maintaining confidentiality of the family matter” was cited to be the major reason behind not reporting abuse (59%).

It is a subject often pushed under the carpet. Most elders become silent sufferers and don’t talk about it as it becomes a matter of family honour for them. Since many live with their abusers, making a complaint only worsens matters as per them, due to fear of retaliation. The problem needs to be dealt with at its root. The degeneration of our value system has heightened this problem. Children are turning abusers. There is a dire need to sensitize them, starting young. HelpAge has started a unique HUG campaign which stands for Help Unite Generations, aiming to do just that” – says Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge NGO India.

The report revealed that though 64% of the victims were aware of the Police helpline, also the most popular redressal mechanism amongst elders, only 12% approached them. Most preferred approaching a relative (53%) or friends (42%).

An interesting observation about the Reasons for Not Reporting abuse is that in Metro cities there is marked ‘lack of confidence in the any person or agency to deal with the problem’ and also there seems to be a general feeling of they “did not know how to deal with the abuse”. However “Fear of retaliation” appears in 3 out of 6 Tier II cities.

Interestingly, the top 3 Reasons for abuse were: Emotional dependence of the victim on the Abuser (46%), Economic dependence of the victim (45%) and Economic dependence of the Abuser (30%) on the victim.

While 17% of those abused, face it daily, 35% face it at least once a week.Elders who faced abuse ‘almost daily’ in Tier I cities, was highest in Hyderabad (42%) and lowest in Mumbai (26%), while those in Tier II cities was highest in Guwahati (71%).

Dark Stories from the field
“At my son’s place, I am given just two chapattis in a day” – says Mansi Devi (name changed) a 60 year old widow residing in Delhi’s Uttam Nagar. Illiterate and with no income of her own, she is heart broken by the fact that the neglect starts with the denial of her basic daily food. Often, Mansi is tempted to leave everything behind and just run away. However, it is her concern for her handicapped daughter and love for her granddaughters that keeps her back.

My own Nephews beat me so brutally, that I couldn’t move out of bed for 7 days– saysGautam Das (name changed), a well-educated 62 year old Commerce graduate & resident of Selimpur, Kolkata who currently works as an accountant with an NGO. He has a fixed steady income, lives in a joint family with his wife, son and families of his two brothers. Life seemed idyllic till his newly married niece committed suicide. Das was blamed for having supported his niece’s decision to marry the man of her choice. From that day on, his brother and wife started blaming him as the main cause for their daughter’s death and his nephew with his friends took to beating him up. Das however suspects that the real reason is that they would like him to leave the ancestral home for the nephew to be able to hand it over to a promoter for developing the property.

“I don’t receive a word of love or affection” – saysDayavati (name changed), a 72 year old widow from the Kachiguda locality of Hyderabad, living with her son and daughter-in-law and their children. She longs for a word of love, a gesture of care; but all she gets in return are rebukes by her daughter-in-law and a son who doubts her.

“Our financial dependence on our son and daughter-in-law has turned us into their servants” – says a painedRamanna (name changed) 68 years old from Bengaluru. Once a flower seller with his own income, advancing years forced him to give up his occupation and move in with his son and daughter-in-law. What followed has been years of abuse at their hands.

“My youngest son abuses me – he snatches the money I keep in my bag” – says Malika (name changed) a 61 year old widow, from Guwahati, is abused by her youngest son for money. An unemployed youth and an alcoholic, he is dependent on his mother for his expenses. When denied money, he shouts and abuses her.

About HelpAge India: HelpAge NGO India is a leading charitable organization working with and for older people in India for the past 36 years. It runs age care programmes throughout the country & advocates strongly for the cause of the elderly and fights for their rights. It also advises & facilitates the Government in formation of policy related to the elderly.

For Information contact: Sonali Sharma – +91 9810676562