Chennai ranked 12th on the list of 20 cities that were surveyed for abuse of elderly people by HelpAge India this year. The non-governmental organisation released its annual survey report at an event to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Thursday, at the office of the Commissioner of Police here in Egmore.

According to the survey, 27.56 per cent of the population of senior citizens in Chennai are abused, which is lower than the nationwide figure of 31.13 per cent of the total population.

The maximum percentage of abuse was recorded in Madhya Pradesh at 77.12 per cent, and the lowest in Rajasthan at 1.67 per cent.

The survey was conducted in 800 locations in 20 cities across the country, from January to April this year. A total of 5,600 people participated. It recognized four kinds of abuse: physical, psychological / emotional, financial / material, sexual /being neglected by their families. It also recommended nationwide programs be introduced in schools and colleges to sensitize students to treat the senior citizens with sensitivity and support.  The data was collected through phone calls made to helplines with toll-free numbers set up by HelpAge. The Chennai helpline received a total of 55 calls this year. While the highest number of calls was recorded in Bangalore – 162, the lowest number of calls was from Simla – 3.

According to V. Sivakumar, joint director of HelpAge India, the organisation played a role in the drafting of the National Policy of Older Persons in 2007. He said that if this Bill was passed by Parliament, then 10 per cent of the total population which comprises older people in the country will benefit. HelpAge is now aiming at updating the existing policy with a set of recommendations listed in the survey. He added, “We will create awareness all over the country. Through this, the younger generation can be made aware of giving more attention and support to their grandparents.” 

At Thursday's programme, M. Ponnavaikko, Vice Chancellor of SRM University administered a pledge that all present at the venue, including a large number of students took.

The chief guest Abhay Kumar Singh, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime), honoured the volunteers and released the report on the nationwide survey.

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