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Elder abuse: A violation of older people's human rights

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  18 Jun 2016 12:00 AM GMT

By Ranjan K Baruah

Most of us respect our elders whether they are our parents or other senior people. But there are elders around us who are facing problem. We could see many old age home because elders are not able to stay with their grown up kids for various reasons. There are instances where many elders stay on the road side without house like homeless people. The problem with elders could be seen in many places whether in India or in other developed countries.

Elder abuse can be defined as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person". Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotiol, sexual and fincial abuse. It can also be the result of intentiol or unintentiol neglect.

Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported globally. Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries - ranging from 1% to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. As such, it demands a global multifaceted response, one which focuses on protecting the rights of older persons.

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. Around 4 to 6% of elderly people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home. Elder maltreatment can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. The incidence of abuse towards older people is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.

Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the intertiol community. The United tions General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, desigted June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.

The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight the often silent suffering of the elder generation. The Day was officially recognized by the United tions General Assembly in December 2011, following a request by the Intertiol Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006. This is the one day of the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some defenseless older people. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Ann said at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002: "We will all grow old one day - if we have that luck."

According to the World Health Organization, prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries - ranging from 1 to 10 per cent. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. More effective prevention strategies and stronger policies are needed to address all aspects of elder abuse.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of United tions on his message said that "abuse and violence directed at older people take many forms, including partner and stranger violence, psychological and emotiol abuse and fincial exploitation. The World Health Organization estimates that up to ten per cent of older people may be affected in some countries." He also added that "older women suffer from age and gender discrimition and are more vulnerable than men. Abuse of older women often follows a lifetime of discrimition, violence and oppression. I am particularly alarmed by growing reports of older women who are accused of witchcraft, making them targets of abuse from their own families and communities."

In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from the public view and considered mostly a private matter. It is important for us to address this issue so that all elders have their basic rights and not deprived form anything. We have moral and ethical responsibilities on this regards apart from legal rights of the elder people. Though the issue is not addressed by many it is right time to raise voice against elder abuse so that 'you' and 'I' are not deprived from rights when we are old or represent elder generation in near future. Together we can make a difference if we wish and act for the rights of elders.

(With direct inputs from UN publication, published on the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and feedback may be sent to bkrtanjan@gmail.com)

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