‘But half of the senior citizens in Mangalore report abuse’

Almost 75 per cent of the elderly people surveyed in a study said they were abused but they did not report the matter. The study, titled “Dignity and Equal Rights”, was carried out by HelpAge India, which fights isolation, poverty and neglect of the elderly.

The aim of the survey was to ascertain the extent of elderly abuse, the reasons for it, identifying the prime perpetrators and to bring about awareness on redress among the elderly.

Dakshina Kannada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Goyal released the study at an event in the city on Friday to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (which is on Saturday).

Rekha, State Head for Karnataka, HelpAge India, said the study covered 24 cities in 20 states. It said 70 per cent of abused elderly did not report the matter as they wished to maintain confidentiality of the family matter (31 per cent) or feared retaliation (23 per cent). “A lot of it is unreported,” she said. Maharashtra (46 per cent) and Karnataka (48 per cent) were the lowest in non-reported cases of abuse.

The study said 80 per cent of elderly live with the family. At the national level, 23 per cent of the elderly surveyed reported being abused. The daughter-in-law was reported as a primary perpetrator of abuse (39 per cent), followed by the son (38 per cent). In tier 1 cities, the daughter-in-law was the main perpetrator and the son in tier 2 cities and 17 per cent of elderly faced abuse by their daughters.

In metros, Hyderabad emerged with the highest rate of elder abuse (37.5 per cent) followed by Kolkata (28 per cent), Delhi (20 per cent), Mumbai (11 per cent), and Chennai (9.64 per cent).

The most common abuse was disrespect (79 per cent), verbal abuse (76 per cent), neglect (69 per cent), and physical abuse (beating and slapping, 40 per cent). Physical abuse was the highest in Rajasthan (16 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (13.5 per cent). In Karnataka, 35 per cent of those surveyed said they had been abused.

The causes of abuse of the elderly are lack of adjustment, economic dependence of the abused and the abuser, and longevity. The solutions is sensitising children and strengthening intergenerational bonding, increasing economic independence of the abused and sensitising young adults. While 70 per cent of them were aware of police helplines, they were unaware of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

She said Mangalore is ranked 13th among all the city’s surveyed with regard to number of abused elderly people. The study surveyed 320 elderly persons, including from Valencia and Jeppu. Fifty per cent of those abused reported it in Mangalore, where 60 per cent of the women and 40 per cent of the men respondents said that the daughter-in-law was the perpetrator.

Mr. Goyal said it is more effective if all helplines work from the same building. One problem is the other party does not respond, but the police can ensure their presence. Olinda Pereira, Director, Vishwas Trust, Mangalore, said that the study could be used to help the elderly.

Shreenath Hegde, honorary secretary, Abhaya Ashraya, said sometimes the elderly might say something that is incorrect as they forget. During a visit to a home where the guests were served coffee by the daughter-in-law, the old person had already been given coffee but asked in front of the guests why he was being deprived of it.