Awareness of redressal mechanisms low among old people

One in every two senior citizens is at the receiving end of abuse, according to a report presented at a workshop here on Sunday.

Presenting the findings of the study by HelpAge India, Venugopal Ramalingam, State-in-charge-Age Care, of the organisation’s Puducherry unit, said 50 per cent of the elderly who were surveyed in 12 cities across India (though not in Puducherry) reported experiencing abuse.

He also said the survey found that in a single year from 2013 to 2014, the percentage of elders who were abused went up drastically from 23 per cent to 50 per cent.

The report also noted that one in five elders was unaware of any currently available redressal mechanisms. “While majority of victims are aware of the police helplines, a minuscule minority approach them.”

Activists point out that even after the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, come into existence in 2011, the awareness level among the elders remained low. They emphasised the urgency in raising awareness.

“Though the provisions of the Act are beneficial to the welfare of senior citizens, they are hesitant to come forward to approach the police or any other authorities in the event of need. Many elders who face abuse from family members are afraid of going to police and seeking assistance of police as they were in the mindset of that their family problems would come out in public,” said S. Sridarane, Secretary of Pondicherry Society for the care of the aged (PONCARE), an institution of Government of Puducherry.

PONCARE in association with National Cadet Corps, Puducherry, HelpAge India and Pondicherry Senior Citizens Welfare Association conducted World Elders Abuse Awareness Day 2014 at Fathima Higher Secondary School in Karuvadikuppam.

Several elders too participated in the programme.

Expressing his displeasure over the poor implementation of the Act, D. Ramabadran, former District Judge said the implementing authorities must realise the salient features of the Act and should not allow the law to be misused like any other social legislations.

Pointing to one of the findings of the HelpAge India report Mr. Ramabadran remarked that it was “shocking to note that there is an emerging trend of daughters also turning abusers.”

Jagadeesan Kannan, Deputy Inspector General of Police said of late several social legislations have been enacted to protect the vulnerable in the society. Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, plays major role for the protection of elders.

“For the effective implementation of social legislation, we realise that the police has a larger role,” he said while adding that police constables would be trained on how to extend a helping hand to senior citizens.

He also advised the elders to keep abreast of developments using the Internet and asked them to engage in community activities.

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