Elderly abuse on the rise, says survey

The percentage admitting to facing abuse this year stands at 50 as opposed to last year's 23 per cent

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Geetanjali Minhas | June 16, 2014



There is an increase in abuse being experienced by half of the elderly population in India. According to a report published by HelpAge India on Elder Abuse in India (2014), 50% of elders surveyed were abused during this year, compared to last year’s 23%. 

The report also stated that 52% women have been found more vulnerable to abuse as compared to 48% men.

The report stated: “Continuing the earlier trend — daughter-in-law (61%) and son (59%) are found to be the topmost perpetrators. However, a new trend suggests that daughters have also been included in the top three abusers.”

The main reason for abuse is emotional and economic dependence on the abuser, said the 77% of the elders surveyed, who live with their families. Verbal abuse, disrespect and neglect were also ranked as the most common abuses experienced by the elderly.

About 46 % elderly reported facing abuse for 3-5 years, 25% for 1-2 years and 4% reported experiencing abuse for more than 15 years. The number of people who admitted to suffer abuse for 3-5 years has shot up to 46% as oppose to last year’s 28%.  

Bengaluru ranked the highest at 75% with most complaints, while Delhi ranked the lowest at 22% among tier-I cities. In tier-II cities, Kanpur emerged as the lowest at 13% and Nagpur as the highest with 85%.

The survey also pointed out that 17% elderly faced daily abuse and 35% face it at least once in a week. Hyderabad is ranked highest among tier-I cities when it comes to elders who face abuse almost every day. In tier-II cities highest elder abuse is reported from Guwahati with 71%.
About 41% abused elders did not report the matter to anyone: maintaining confidentiality of the family matter (59%) was cited to be the major reason.

The report found that though 64% of the victims were aware of the police helpline, only 12% approached them. Most (53%) preferred approaching relatives or friends (42%).

“An interesting observation about the reason for reports of abuse not being reported in the metro cities is marked by lack of confidence in any person or agency to deal with the problem and a general feeling of not knowing how to deal with the abuse,” said the report.

According to observations awareness of the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens Act 2007 has marginally increased from 11% to 19%. However, only 14% victims are aware of the Act.

The HelpAge research report pans 12 cities across eight states, with a sample size of 1,200 elders covering both metro (tier-I) and non-metro (tier-II) cities. It aims to find out the existence of elderly abuse, reasons for its occurrence, its extent and what are the most effective measures to deal with the problem.

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