World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
“My daughter studied in a reputed Bangalore school, works for a well known IT company and has a good income, yet she harassed me by not offering me food at times and not letting my brothers or sisters visit me at home,” says the senior citizen who now does the odd typing work to maintain himself. He filed a complaint against his daughter at the local police station and when they failed to take action, contacted the Senior Citizen’s Helpline run by Nightingale Medical Trust in Bangalore. The senior citizen’s daughter and wife were issued a notice, though they have so far failed to make an appearance before the Helpline’s advocate.
Why are cases of abuse on the rise? According to those who work in the area, increased life span of the elderly and a change in traditional family values have led to cases of abuse, exploitation and desertion of older persons. Elders suffer physical, emotional, and financial abuse in silence as ill-treatment and abuse occurs mostly within the family. What makes it worse is that In India, effective support systems to address this issue are almost non existent.
Gerontologist Dr Indira Jai Prakash says that elder abuse is still a hidden problem and both victims and people who would like to help victims find it difficult to define it adequately. While legal sanctions are necessary, there is also need to sensitize people about this issue. It is also vital to have a bottoms up approach so that people who are the main target or are potential targets are made aware of how to identify, prevent and protect oneself from such situation. Community can play a very important role in both preventing the abuse as well as empowering the elders to fight back against such violation of their basic human rights.
To support this cause, Nightingales Regional Resource & Training Centre, an initiative of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt of India and a project of Nightingales Medical Trust in collaboration with Federation of Senior Citizen Forums of Karnataka is organizing a Workshop on the Role of Community in Sensitizing and Evolving Methods of Prevention of Elder Abuse in Bangalore on June 15.
Under this program, senior citizens would be involved in defining what they consider elder abuse, and also outline how communities can help in empowering elders to protect themselves. Instead of ‘ telling’ them, they will be’asked’. A practical manual will be developed from the ideas and suggestions gathered.
Silvertalkies wishes this project every success. Watch this space for details soon.
About the Elder’s Helpline
In Bangalore, the Elders Helpline is a joint venture between the Bangalore City Police and Nightingales Medical Trust and has succesfully resolved over 1100 cases.t Since its inception in 2002, it has received over 45,047 calls, averaging at around 40 a day. The helpline staff include social workers, counselors, volunteers, legal professionals and police personnel. The services offered by the Elders Helpline include helping elders in distress; facilitating police intervention in serious cases; information on personal security, medical issues and other daily needs; tracing missing elders; creating awareness about elders’ rights, children’s responsibilities, responsibility of the public in minimising crime and violence, dispute resolution and free legal advice among others. Based in Shivajinagar, Bangalore, you can contact the Elders Helpline on 1090 or 080-22943226 (8 am to 7 pm), Monday to Sunday.
Helplines in other cities
In several other cities, Cordaid – Support Services for the Urban Elderly and HelpAge India manage a helpline. Here are the numbers:
The Dignity Foundation too runs a helpline to help elders who are being harassed or abused. Do check the following link for numbers in different cities. http://www.dignityfoundation.com/community-care/dignity-helpline.html
(With inputs from Nightingale Medical Trust)