On the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a survey revealed that a good percentage of the elderly think that elder abuse is prevalent in Goan society.
The survey, conducted by Help Age India was unveiled at a programme jointly organised by Help Age India and the All Goa Senior Citizens Federation, reveals that around 53 per cent of the elderly think that they are disrespected, while there’s a perception amongst 30 per cent that they are subjected to verbal abuse, including shouting and insult.
A whopping 20 per cent pointed out that the elderly are subjected to physical abuse, including beating and slapping, while another 18 per cent have undergone emotional or psychological, including intimidation and humiliation.
To questions on response to abuse faced by women, around 5 per cent pointed out they have complained to family members who can address the issue. The report shows around 45 per cent of the elderly said they have done nothing to the abuse, while six per cent said they went out and spent time till they cooled down. Around three per cent pointed out that they had no option but to cry and felt depressed, while two per cent said they have taken the help of NGOs.
While three per cent of the women elderly said they have reported the abuse to the police/helpline, around seven per cent said they stopped talking to the family members.
On suggestions on what can be done to deal with abuse effectively, the survey showed around 36 per cent of the elderly spoke about the platforms where the elderly can talk freely and will be listened to, while the same percentage have called for staying alert to signs and symptoms of abuse. Around 32 per cent have called for adult daycare programmes.
The top three suggestions made by the elderly to prevent or reduce the occurrence of elder abuse show that around 48 per cent of the elderly called for raising awareness about elder abuse through education campaigns, while around 42 per cent underscored the need for strengthening laws and penalties for elder abuse offenders.
Around 33 per cent of the elderly have called for providing training to caregivers on recognising and addressing elder abuse.
Pointing out that the elderly seemed to have encountered barriers and challenges while reporting or seeking help for abuse, the survey showed around nine per cent of the elderly said they had never reported or sought help for abuse due to multi-response concerns about not being believed or taken seriously.
Around seven per cent said they had never reported or sought help for elder abuse due to fear of retaliation or further abuse. Around 21 per cent said they had never reported or sought help for elder abuse due to a lack of awareness about available resources.
Demands for implementation of laws enacted to ensure safety of elderly
On the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day scheduled on Thursday, leaders of senior citizens forums have called for the implementation of the laws enacted to ensure the safety and security of the elderly population in both letter and spirit.
After unveiling the report on the elderly abuse in Goa and India by Help Age India Goa in-charge, Dattaprasad M Pawaskar and president of the All Goa Senior Citizens Federation Diego Da Costa at a programme here on Wednesday, Diego lamented that the law enforcement authorities shirk their responsibilities in implementing the law, leaving the elderly to fend for themselves.
Citing the case of the Senior Citizens Welfare and Maintenance measures, Diego said the authorities, including the Deputy Collector, go by the provisions of the CrPC and not the Act enacted for the maintenance and welfare of the senior citizens.
"When the elderly are harassed and beaten up by their children, they knock on the doors of the police station. But, instead of proceeding against the accused persons, the police direct the senior citizen victims to go to the court on grounds the office is non-cognizable,” he said.
Diego added: “We appeal to the police to send the cases to the Deputy Collector, appointed as Tribunals to deal with cases of maintenance of senior citizens.”