On the eve of “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June15)” and just two days before ‘”Fathers Day” HelpAge India released nationwide, its report on “Elder Abuse in India (2013)” which revealed some disturbing findings. The report was an eye opener in many ways and brought to the forefront some grim realities our elders face.
While in Bangalore a 90 year old father was chained on his terrace simply because he had unhygienic habits, in Delhi an 85 year old man was beaten and slapped by his own son, today stays at an old age home. These are just some stories which see the light of day, but many such heart rending stories are often pushed under the rug and the elderly remain silent sufferers.
More than one fifth of the elderly 23%, reported experiencing abuse nationally. Four fifth of the elderly 83% live with family. Nationally the Daughter-in-law has been reported as a primary perpetrator of abuse (39%) followed closely by their own Son (38%).
“It is indeed sad that we have come to a stage where such a day needs to be marked. A country which has always prided itself in good values, where the elders were always treated with respect, now faces changing times, where a growing number of elders are silently suffering at the hands of those they trust the most. HelpAge has been tracing the extent of this heinous crime across the country over the years. This year we covered not only Tier I , but Tier II cities as well, to understand the extent, prevalence of abuse and what measures can be taken to counter it” – said Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge India.
In Tier 1 (Metro) cities Daughter-in-law has been reported as the main perpetrator of abuse. While it is the Son who is the main abuser in Tier-II cities and a disturbing fact that emerged was that 17% faced abuse at the hands of their own daughter.
Nationally, Madurai (TN) 63% and Kanpur (UP) 60% recorded highest levels of Elder Abuse.
Among the Tier-1 (Metro) cities: Hyderabad emerged with the highest rate of elder abuse 37.50%, followed by Kolkata 28%, Delhi 20%, Mumbai 11.43% and Chennai with the lowest 9.64%.
Amongst the most common types of Abuse faced by our elders, Disrespect 79% was the main, followed by Verbal Abuse 76% and Neglect 69%, and an alarming 39% elderly faced Physical Abuse (beating/ slapping).
Physical Abuse was highest in Rajasthan 16.19% and in Andhra Pradesh 13.67%.
Disrespect 11.51% & Verbal Abuse 12% was highest in TN, and in West Bengal and J & K, Neglect as a type of abuse, was high with 12.5 5% & 10% respectively.
In West Bengal & Tamil Nadu (TN) Economic Exploitation as a type of abuse was also high, with 18.91% and 15.23% respectively.
The major reasons cited by the elderly for prevalence of elder abuse included: “lack of adjustment”, “economic dependence of the abused”, “increasing longevity” and “economic dependence of abuser.”
About 35% of the elderly abused, reported to be facing it almost daily. 16% of elderly reported facing abuse for 6-10 years, while 28% reported facing abuse for 3-5 years and 26% were facing it for 1-2 years.
What was overwhelming, was that most of those abused 70%, did not report the matter, stating the importance of “maintaining confidentiality of the family matter” as the major reason 31%, followed by “fear of retaliation” stated by 23%
Maharashtra 46% and Karnataka 48% were the lowest in non-reported cases of abuse.
The Police Helpline were known to most elderly 70% as a redress mechanism and most 17.67% knew about the HelpAge India Elder Helpline, while 11% were aware of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act 2007.
The most effective mechanisms suggested by the elderly to deal with Elder Abuse included “sensitizing children and strengthening intergenerational bonding”, “increasing economic independence of the abused” and “sensitizing young adults.”
The HUG campaign
HelpAge recently launched its HUG (Help Unite Generations) campaign with this very aim to sensitize young children & adults on elder issues & needs. Through the campaign HelpAge urges the young to spend time with the elderly, find an elder friend and enrich both theirs and the elders’ life. It believes if this gap between generations is strengthened and sensitivity among children and young adults is increased, it can go a long way in tackling Elder Abuse which often starts at home.
About HelpAge India
HelpAge India is a leading charitable organization working with and for older people in India for the past 35 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: HelpAge India