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Indian Blight: Abuse Of Its Senior Citizens

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Indian Blight: Abuse of Its Senior Citizens


In a fast-greying India, respect for the elderly is fast vanishing. And if you thought sons were the biggest heapers of emotional stress on their parents, you are mistaken.

For the first time since HelpAge India began measuring the emotional health of the elderly in the country, daughters-in-law have bypassed sons as the major abusers of the elderly at home. The trend holds firmly in India's capital, where 100 per cent of the elderly surveyed stated that their daughters-in-law abused them the most; the corresponding percentages were 89 and 87 per cent, respectively, in Hyderabad and Bhopal.

In fact, nationally, daughters-in-law are the lead abusers of the old with 63.4 per cent naming them as against 44 pc blaming their sons (in 2010, 57 per cent elderly had said their sons abused them the most).

Conducted in Delhi, the NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Bhopal, Chennai, Patna, Hyderabad and Bangalore, the study released on the eve of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day reveals another distressing fact: The more economically advanced a city, the greater its level of intolerance for the old.

Bangalore, for instance, pips others in terms of the abuse heaped on the old. Forty-four per cent elderly in this IT hub reported severe physical abuse, beating being the foremost. Another IT hub, Hyderabad, had 38 per cent old people reporting physical maltreatment followed by 30, 23 and 12 per cent respectively in Bhopal, Kolkata and Delhi. Chennai reports the lowest elderly abuse in India at 2 per cent.

On verbal abuse, Delhi takes the lead with 100 per cent interviewees complaining of the use of foul language, name-calling and chronic blaming by family members. It has also been revealed by the study that over two-thirds of the elderly silently suffer abuse and never report it due to the fear of inviting greater wrath of caretakers.

Trends clearly point to the need of a national social security policy for the elderly whose population is pegged at 100 million by 2016. Analysis shows that the level of abuse of the old is inversely proportional to their level of economic independence. Chennai (with the lowest population of abused elderly) has the highest number of the elderly engaged in economic activity, at 38 per cent.

Conversely, Delhi, which tops the cases of verbal abuse of the elderly, has only 7 per cent of the old engaged economically. Financial dependence is in fact emerging as the biggest bane for the old, with 81 per cent of the respondents admitting to being dependent on sons.

In Hyderabad, 92 per cent of the old are dependent on sons (consequentially 38 per cent report physical abuse); in Kolkata and Bhopal, 90 per cent and 88 per cent, respectively, depend on sons; both cities are among the top four Indian cities reporting the highest elderly abuse.

Researchers also found that the elderly were largely unaware of the laws enacted for their welfare. Just 18 per cent have heard of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act and 11 per cent know of the National Policy on Older persons.

Even today, over half (55 per cent) of the elderly in India have remittances from children as a major source of income, followed by 35 per cent who depend on pensions.

[Courtesy: Tribune]

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