New Delhi: Painting a grim picture of the city’s elderly, a study has claimed that 92% of Delhi’s youth are indifferent to the rampant verbal and physical abuse being inflicted on the aged and would rather look the other way rather than intervening.
The report, ‘Elder Abuse-The Indian Youth Speaks Out’, released by Help Age India on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, was the outcome of a 10-state-study involving around 200 households, chiefly in the middle and upper-middle income category.
In 2014, another report released by the NGO had claimed that nearly half of the country’s elderly faced abuse in one form or the other and incidentally 77% of them lived with their families.
Highlighting the urgency of the situation, the study notes that as many as 23% of the respondents felt instances of physical abuse was only next to verbal abuse, that stood at 77%, in the national capital.
“Nationally, 73% of the youth admit that elder abuse exists. 42% feel that it is a problem of all developing societies, including India.
“While 34.7% youth perceive the primary abuser to be the daughter-in-law, 23% perceive it to be the son,” the report says.
When it comes to preventive measures, the youth advised the elders to stay socially active and 31.5% stressed on the point of “organised finances”.
“86.9% youth advocate living in large joint families as a measure to prevent abuse, in today’s social scenario of a rising graph of nuclear families,” the study notes.
Apart from the national capital, the cities surveyed by the study include Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kanpur and Madurai.
According to a United Nations observation, the global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025.
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.