One in five senior citizens in the country faces abuse, mostly in the form of disrespect and verbal abuse, revealed a survey by HelpAge India, a national non-profit organisation, on the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day , which will be observed on Saturday.
The organisation interviewed 6,748 senior citizens across 24 tier-I and tier-II cities between April 27 and May 17, where 23% of the respondents reported experiencing abuse, mostly at the hands of daughters-in-law (39%) and their own sons (38%). Around 39% of the abused said they had faced physical abuse, including being beaten and slapped, while 35% said they were abused daily.
“Last year, most senior citizens had complained of abuse by their sons, this year the daughter-in-law was the main perpetrator, at least in the tier-I cities such as Mumbai,” said regional director Prakash Borgaonkar. “The main reason is the increasing need for families to have their own space.”
In Mumbai, where 280 elderly were interviewed, 11% said they faced ill-treatment, but 65% felt there was prevalence of elder abuse in society.
While Mumbai fared better in terms of prevalence of elder abuse compared to other cities such as Hyderabad (37.5%), Kolkata (28%) and Delhi (20%), officials from HelpAge India's western region office in the city said the number of calls to the organisation's helpline had increased.
“We are now getting an average of 15 calls from the elderly every day. The number was less than 10 till last year,” said Valerian Pais, deputy director.
Only 2% of the respondents in the city were aware of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007), meant for safeguarding financial interests of the elderly.
Borgaonkar said there was an urgent need to address the problems faced by senior citizens. “Today, there are 100 million people above 60 years of age in India, and by 2050, it is expected to reach 315 million, which will be more than the entire population of most nations,” he said.