Since December 19, 2011 United Nations (UN) has recognised elder abuse as a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has maintained that “side by side with older persons who are in good health and whose financial situation is acceptable, there are many who do not have adequate means of support, even in developed countries, and who feature prominently among the most vulnerable, marginal and unprotected groups” (General Comment No. 6, para. 17.
Older people and all those who support fulfilment of their needs believe that the crux of elder abuse and neglect in society is violation of rights of seniors. The rapidly increasing numbers of older people, especially in Asia, where China and India take a lead in growing ageing population, are at a considerable risk of abuse, neglect and marginalisation. In developing countries, like India, older people don’t always fully enjoy fundamental human freedoms and rights.
It is common knowledge that for older people the right to accessibility — including physical and economic accessibility, access to education and information, and non-discrimination — as a key component of the normative content of the rights, is not followed. There are numerous examples of when older people do not have access to a reasonable standard of living (adequate food, water and housing), health and education. There is high percentage of illiterate older people, especially women, and yet limited emphasis on this age group in adult education programmes or in financial literacy campaigns when growing number of older people are becoming victims of financial frauds and abuse, are just some of the illustrations of how elder rights are violated in the society.
Today India, besides being a young society, is also an ageing country with over 9 per cent of population of older people, and the world is currently experiencing the annual growth rate for the older population (2.6 per cent) more than twice that recorded for the total population (1.2 per cent). (UN data, 2011) It is time that the international community and various governments pay attention to having universal human rights standard that protects people from human rights infringements based on old age. The majority of older people in our country as well as in other parts of the world do not enjoy old age benefits with regard to social and health security.
There are no compulsory old age social assistance and insurance provisions. Families which traditionally provided and even now are doing come under certain constraints and stress, can’t always be dependable due to various obvious social economic changes impacting the societies.
The vulnerability of older people to the risk of various forms of abuse is not only on the increase but there are no adequate mechanisms to address them and provide relief to victims of abuse and neglect both from the family and the community. World Health Organisation in their publication Abuse of the Elderly, estimates that 4-6 per cent of older persons at home and in community settings have suffered some form of abuse — including physical, psychological, emotional, sexual or financial abuse or neglect — and the corresponding figure for elder abuse in institutional settings is believed to be significantly higher. Some risk factors for elder abuse include social isolation, the societal depiction of older people and the erosion of bonds between generations.
In certain parts of the world since the last five years there is much interest in having an international human rights convention on rights of older persons. Argentina, together with Brazil, Chile, and many other Latin and South American countries, are working toward a regional convention on rights of older persons. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights is poised to establish a Protocol on Older Persons. Asia needs to also get its act together and stress on a comprehensive legal instrument on elderly rights which has a universal as well as a regional appeal. India, especially as a leading member of Saarc and a global player, needs to be vocal on including older people amongst the other vulnerable groups to have a binding international instrument addressing their rights specifically. Today there are internationally agreed conventions which protect the children, women, migrant workers, persons with disabilities. It is true that some of these conventions cover certain aspects of vulnerabilities of older people, but a specific instrument especially to protect all aspects of rights of older people once signed and ratified by UN Member States would regularly monitor and report on the implementation of violations against older people often in the form of abuse, exploitation, deprivation, isolation and marginalisation.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by including focus on older women requires that specific human rights violations against older women are to be included in country reports on implementation of human rights for women.
This has, in fact, led to in India, for instance the ministry of women and child development to consider programmes for better quality of life of older women than the ministry of social justice and empowerment, the nodal ministry for addressing concerns of older people, to do so.
Similarly, the heightened risk to which older persons are exposed is explicitly recognised, for example, in article 16 (2) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires “age sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities and their families... [to prevent] exploitation, violence and abuse”. It, however, does not bring under its purview older people without disabilities, but may be because of frailty, whose rights to care and support are violated. Universally non availability of long term care provisions, palliative and home care services, respite care, recreational and day care facilities for older people are not only violations of their rights but increase the risk to abuse and neglect.
Source: Recognising rights of old: A step to prevent abuse | The Asian Age
WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY 2012: India & Transnational Programme : On the occasion of 7th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) 15th June 2012 , Silver Inning Foundation (SIF) a NGO ( Not for Profit) working with senior citizens and their family members will be commemorating Elder Abuse Awareness Day from on May 21st to June 30th 2012 . SIF through its networking partners and social media has taken the initiative to host various events pan India & Beyond Boundaries to create awareness and sensitize the Government and the Civil Society to eliminate/prevent elder abuse at both micro and macro level. This is first time we have partners from USA ‘The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly ; The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly’ and from Kenya ‘La Vie Foundation’ : http://silverinnings.blogspot.in/2012/05/world-elder-abuse-awareness-day-2012.html