Abuse of elders is at an all-time high in India with alarming figures being revealed by an NGO, and this should put us to shame. A recent survey says that 56 per cent of those who abuse their parents are sons. This is a shocking statistic, and also indicates that daughters-in-laws are not the major perpetrators of this act.
INDIAN SOAP vamps are shown as the ones who ill-treat the suffering distressed mother-in-laws..daughter-in-laws, have always been typecast as demons torturing the innocent mother-in-laws, and the sons as messiahs who save and rescue their mothers from this drama. Sons since time immemorial are portrayed in a positive light and daughter-in-laws in negative.
But, a recent report by the NGO HelpAge INDIA on the ocassion of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in mid-June, broke the above myths about sons. It stated that 56% of the perpetrators are sons, whereas 23% daughter-in-laws indulge in this heinous crime. It is a hard irony as we belong to a land where familial bonds and respect for elders is given utmost importance.
Out of the many reasons for the same, the most alarming reason is property issue i.e. 51% - as insecurity and fear of losing larger share in property prompts family members, mostly sons, to indulge in hurting, both physically and mentally, their parents and elders. Everyday, with increasing awareness and exposure, more and more victims are coming forward to report their problems as the help lines of HelpAge India do not stop ringing.
What goes on into the psychology of such culprits is a mystery. Mrs.Gupta from Jalandhar, Punjab, was tortured for six years by her two sons for getting larger share in property, she was even deprived of food for several days before she gave up on their demands, after which, she was thrown out of the house and left to fend for herself.
As said in the report, the capital has seen a huge increase from 12% in 2011 to 29.82% in 2012, and so, most of these cases reported in Delhi are property related. Many vital steps need to be taken to ensure elder security, both physical and financial.
1. Wills should be prepared by the elders with the guidance of a professional, trusted lawyer, and should preferably be kept away from the knowledge of the family members.
2. Elder care cells should be established with counselors to counsel the distressed, and also keep the identities confidential.
3. Extra-curricular activities should be initiated among them to keep them fit and active.
4. Pension should be increased as a meager Rs. 200 a month is nothing for sustenance, and elders above poverty line should also be covered.
5. Workshops should be conducted for spreading awareness about types of abuses and redress mechanisms for the same, and to build confidence in the law.
6. Always have property in your name till you are alive to make sure your children feel your importance in the house.
7. Communities can be created to hear problems of the elders, and strict laws should be formulated to take action against perpetrators of the crime of abusing one's elders in the family.
The foundation named Silver Innings is dedicated to the cause of elderly protection and runs its help lines in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta, Banglaore and Chennai.. It also has old age homes with different facilities where the members are specialized in fields like architecture to start their own 'silver innings'. Everyone's support with initiatives from the elders can go a long way in fruitful outcomes of the struggles of NGOs lile HelpAge India, and Silver Innings, etc., in protecting the elderly.