Nothing could be more unfortunate than prevalence of elder abuse in India. A country known for extending warmth, respect and hospitality to strangers is now finding it difficult to protect its own elders. Millions of India’s parents and senior citizens are suffering at the hands of their own children and family members.
It is generally believed that absence of reasoning and education makes people indulge in inhuman acts.
But a deeper insight reveals that academic education has very little to do with our behaviour. Instead our attitude and perceptions determine how we behave with others, including our family. And our value systems define how we behave with elders.
Startling revelations are reported in a study conducted by Helpage on abuse suffered by elderly population in India. 31% elders reported facing elder abuse, while 24% said they suffered it almost daily.
The study covered 20 Indian cities where 5600 elders were interviewed.
Here are the major findings of Helpage India Report 2012 on Elder Abuse in India:
- 31% of older persons reported facing abuse.
- More than half of those abused were facing it for more than 4 years and all these were facing multiple forms of abuse.
- 24% older people faced abuse almost daily.
- 75% of those who faced abuse lived with family and 69% were owners of the house in which they were living.
- The primary abuser was the son in 56% cases, followed by the daughterinlaw with 23% cases.
- More than 50% of those abused, had faced this situation for more than 5 years. 33% faced it for up to 3 years and less than 1 % faced it for more than 6 years.
- 55% of those abused, did not report it to anyone. More that 80% of these did not report the matter to uphold family honor.
- 62% older persons suggested the most effective mechanisms to tackle Elder Abuse was sensitization of children and strengthening of intergenerational bonding and 38% stated it to be economic independence.
- 18% older persons did not know about any of the currently available redress mechanisms. 36% knew about one and 46% knew two or three of the options.
- The older persons considered disrespect, neglect and verbal abuse as Elder Abuse.
- Disrespect, followed by neglect and verbal abuse, were thought to be the form in which Elder Abuse was most prevalent in our society.
- 6% older persons did not know what constitutes Elder Abuse.
- 81% older persons thought that Elder Abuse was prevalent in our society.
- Only 22% older persons considered the prevalence rate of Elder Abuse in society to be high; an equal proportion considered it to be low and 56% said it was moderate.
- Most of the abused older persons experienced disrespect; neglect and verbal abuse
- Little less than 50% of the older persons had seen cases of Elder Abuse in their surroundings
- Out of those who reported abuse, 49% elders chose a family member for reporting/ confiding about it.
- Police Helplines and services were known to majority of the respondents but were never used, probably due to lack of trust or to maintain family honor.
- Delhi NCR witnessed a rise in abuse from last year, with 29.82% eldery stating they faced abuse, as against 12% the year before. Mumbai (Maharashtra) followed a close second to Delhi NCR with 29.46 %.
- Bhopal (MP) ranked the highest in Elder Abuse with 77.12% elders stating they faced abuse, followed closely by Guwahati (Assam) with 60.55% and Lucknow (UP) with 52%.5
- Other than Bhubaneswar (Odisha) with 23.31%, Eastern India on an overall basis had high percentage of Elder Abuse with Guwahati(Assam) 60.55% & Kolkata (WB) – 40.93% .
- Jaipur (Rajasthan) reported a miniscule 1.67% cases of Elder Abuse.
- 11% of older women and 6% older men did not have any knowledge about the currently available reporting and redress mechanisms. None of the respondents knew about all the available mechanisms.
- 19% older women knew about one mechanism as compared to 17% men, and 21% women knew 2 or 3 mechanisms as compared to 25% older men.