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Indian cities see rise in elders’ abuse, says report


New Delhi, June 13 :

She does not get proper meals in her own home. Yet, 60-year-old Mansi Devi of Delhi is forced to live with her son and daughter-in-law, as she has nowhere else to go.

Mansi Devi is illiterate, with no income of her own, and is given only two chapattis (Indian bread) a day.

old ageThe story of 68-year-old Ramanna from Bangalore is no different. Once a flower seller with his own income, he now feels reduced to a servant status because of financial dependence on his son.

These are just some of the several stories brought up in a report by HelpAge India which shows 50 percent of elders are experiencing abuse. This is up from 23 percent last year.

The report – Elder Abuse in India (2014) – based on a study done in 12 cities across eight states, also said women seemed to be more vulnerable with 52 percent of them suffering abuse as against 48 percent men.

The report was released ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15.

“Abuser was a trusted source from within the elder’s family, with the daughter-in-law (61 percent) and son (59 percent) emerging as the topmost perpetrators,” said the report.

“Not surprisingly, 77 percent of those surveyed live with their families. An unsuspecting entry amongst the top three abusers is now the daughter as well,” it said.

Verbal abuse (41 percent), disrespect (33 percent) and neglect (29 percent) were ranked as the most common types of abuse experienced by the elderly.

“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,” said Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India.

“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 sensitise them, starting young,” he said.

Cherian added that HelpAge India has started a unique HUG campaign which stands for Help Unite Generations, aiming to sensitise generations about taking care of the elders.