Family Violence: Reflections on Elder Abuse in India
India is generally perceived to be a country that has a strong tradition of family that nurtures, protects and respects its ‘dependent members’, such as children, women and the elderly. However, in modern times this tradition seems to be weakening, with increasing incidence of family violence. This chapter is based on the data collected by HelpAge India from various Indian cities (Metros, Tier-I and II cities) in the period 2012–2014, and draws inferences from it. The HelpAge study explored the views of older persons on the components of elder abuse, its prevalence, and sub-types. Seniors were also asked about their personal as well as general experience of abuse, reporting of abuse, suggestions for effective measures to deal with elder abuse and information about currently available intervention mechanisms to deal with the problem. Some common trends that emerged were that elder abuse was experienced by a substantial number of older persons. Disrespect, neglect and verbal abuse were the most commonly experienced sub-types. A very high percentage of older persons felt that the rate of elder abuse in the country was fairly high and many of them had seen such cases in their family or neighbourhood. Elder abuse was faced by those living with their family and most of them blamed the son and/or the daughter-in-law for it. The reported duration and frequency of abuse was also alarming. The victims kept it to themselves and in some cases the other family members and/or friends were informed. The respondents thought that abuse could be prevented or controlled by strengthening inter-generational ties, sensitizing young adults to the issue and by increasing seniors’ economic independence. But, the victims of abuse wanted effective legal mechanisms for reporting and redress. A large majority of older persons were aware of the police helpline but were not willing to use it.
- Bengaluru City Police. http://www.bcp.gov.in/Elders_Helpline.aspx. Accessed 8 Sept 2016.
- Devi Prasad, B. 2000. Abuse and neglect: A review of research and programmes. In Gerontological social work in India, ed. M. Desai, and S. Raju. Delhi: BR Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
- Devi Prasad, B., Aruna Khasgiwala, and Thrity Vaswani. 2009. Families in difficult situations. The Indian Journal of Social Work 70 (2): 189–217Google Scholar
- D’Souza, Alfred, and Walter Fernandes (eds.). 1982. Aging in South Asia: Theoretical issues and policy implications. New Delhi: Indian Social Institute.Google Scholar
- Gore, M.S. 1993. The elderly in an ageing society, Contributed to Volume IV of Encyclopedia on Ageing, Japan.Google Scholar
- HelpAge India. 2013. Elder abuse in India (2013): A HelpAge India report. New Delhi. Unpublished Report. https://www.helpageindia.org/images/pdf/ElderAbuseIndia13.pdf. Accessed 27 April 2017.
- HelpAge India. 2014. Elder abuse in India (2014): A HelpAge India report. New Delhi.Unpublished Report. https://www.helpageindia.org/images/pdf/elderabuseindia14.pdf. Accessed 27 April 2017.
- Nightingales Trust. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/man-woman/Old-abused-and-harassed-the-story-of-Bangalores-elderly/articleshow/25261448.cms. Accessed 8 Sept 2016.
- Rao, K.V. 1995. Rural elderly in Andhra Pradesh: A study of their socio-demographic profile. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Visakhapatnam, Andhra University.Google Scholar
- Siva Raju, S. 2011. Studies on ageing in India: A review. BKPAI working paper No. 2, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), New Delhi, 12.Google Scholar
- Vaswani, T.G. (2001). Family care of the elderly: Abuse, neglect and abandonment. The Indian Journal of Social Work 62 (3): 492–504.Google Scholar
- Veedon, R. 2001. Elder abuse in the urban context. Indian Journal of Social Work 62: 480–491.Google Scholar