Elder abuse in Guwahati above national average
GUWAHATI, June 16: Once, Herbert Hoover said, “Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.” However, the present trend has been so disturbing and turning around that a section of the growing youths are neither fighting to safeguard the borderlands nor to safeguard the four walls of their home. They are simply engaged in abusing their own parents in various forms.
This hypothesis is visibly corroborated by a report recently released in Guwahati by the HelpAge India, a leading charitable organization that has been working with and for older people in India for the past 40 years.
According to the report, ‘Elder Abuse in India 2018 – Changing Cultural Ethos and Impact of Technology’ –released by HelpAge India, the perception on what amounts to elder abuse in Guwahati is – disrespecting parents 77%, beating and slapping 34%, verbal abuse 67%, economic exploitation 34%, unwelcome or forcible sexual contact 8%) and neglect (40%).
On the other hand, the national average was – disrespect 51%, beating and slapping 20%, verbal abuse 42%, economic exploitation 24%, unwelcome or forcible sexual contact 6%, and neglect 31%. Significantly, the national average depicts a relatively lower average than that of Guwahati city. This is a pointer to the growing incidents of elder abuses in the city.
Elders perceive that they are mainly abused as their children want to live independently, do not like their way of living, treat them as burden as they lack resources to meet sons needs; besides property related matters. The trend is consistent across cities and among different categories, the report observed. Old age has been regarded as that time of the life when people because of physical decline, can no longer carry out their household works and calls for elder abuse at the hands of their children and grandchildren.
Both formal and non-formal mechanisms adopted by elders were probed in case they made an attempt to report their case. At the national level, only 18% elders have confirmed that they have made an attempt to report abuse. The reporting is low by elderly females, 16% as compared to elderly males 20%. There seems a decrement trend in the reporting behaviour as the age of the elderly increase, rest other categories have no significant difference in reporting behaviour.
Nearly one-fourth (25%) elders experience abuse personally. The main abusers are son (52%) and daughter-in-law (34%). The most common forms of abuse they experience are disrespect (56%), verbal abuse (49%) and neglect (33%). Economic exploitation is 22% and beating and slapping is a disturbing 12%.
“Each year we try to get a better understanding of the existence of this heinous crime against our elderly and create awareness about the issue. Unfortunately, elder abuse starts at home and from whom they trust the most. This year the son has turned out to be the foremost perpetrator of elder abuse, followed by the daughter-in-law who normally is perceived as the primary abuser as per past surveys. We run a toll-free elder helpline No. 1800-180-1253 for such elders in need, so that they can reach out to us for help, often young good Samaritans call us wanting help on elder they see in need of help and protection,” says Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India.”
Unfortunately, 82% of those abused do not report the matter. The key reasons for not reporting are to maintain confidentiality (52%) of family matter or do not know how to deal with problem (34%) suggesting lack of awareness. 73% elders feel that their adult children are too busy on the phone even when at home with them. 78% elders agree that social media have decreased their families personal time spent with them. More than 50% of the abusers are skilled workers and working professionals. Their mean age is 42 years, which is the young adult.