The traditional 'Saas-Bahu' equation seems to have taken a swirl, with the daughter-in-law emerging as an "abuser" of the elderly in the country's lower socio-economic strata, according to a recent study.
"Nationally, daughter-in-law emerged as the major abuser of the elderly (63.4%) followed by the son (44%) from lower socio economic strata as against the son (53.6%) last year in the higher socio-economic strata," said a report on "Elder abuse and crime in India", released by HelpAge, India.
Based on the findings in nine cities in the country, the report lists verbal abuse including "speaking loudly, using foul language, name calling, accusing and blaming" topping the kind of abuse faced by the elderly in the lower socio-economic strata.
Among the higher socio-economic segment of population the abuse takes form of "showing disrespect" to the elderly.
"While verbal abuse was highest in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai reaching 100%, physical abuse was highest in Patna (71%) and the lowest in Ahmedabad," it notes.
Abuse by son was reported more in Patna (71.4%) and Bangalore (58.8%), while abuse by daughter-in-law was highest in all cities except Bangalore, with Delhi NCR topping at 100%.
Among the factors contributing to the malaise are the shrinking sizes of residences in cities, drastic changes in the social fabric and cultural values and a preference of the new generation for nuclear family, the study released on the occasion of 'World Elder Abuse Awareness Day', observed on June 15, stated.
The study observed that on a national level, elder abuse is highest among the 70-plus elderly and it is mostly elderly women who face abuse due to dependence on their sons.
More than one fifth of the elderly (22%) have experienced abuse, the report based on interviews with respondents said.
"Bangalore tops elder abuse, with 44% cases, and is closely followed by Hyderabad (38%), Bhopal (30%), Kolkata (23%) while Chennai recording the lowest at just 2%," the study claimed.
The overall percentage of the elderly staying with their sons is put at 72 while Mumbai tops in the category with 86%. Interestingly, Chennai reported the highest percentage of the elderly staying with daughters at 22%.
The report also noted passive acceptance of the abuse by the elderly, as 98% of them did not register a complaint with police.