Kolkata: India has over 90 million elderly
persons above the age of 60 years and many of them, silently
suffer abuse in the hands of either their daughters-in-law or
sons, according to a survey report by HelpAge India.
The study, made public yesterday on the eve of the sixth
World Elder Abuse awareness Day, has found that about 41 per
cent felt that there has been an increase in the rate of crime
against the elderly in the past three years.
"More than half of India`s senior citizens surveyed feel
that they are soft targets for crime," the report said.
HelpAge India is a leading humanitarian, development and
campaign organisation working with and for older people in
India for more than 30 years.
The World Elder Awareness Day evolved from its nascent
stage in 1997 initiated by a small group in Australia, to
becoming an issue that saw United Nations endorsing and making
it a global concern.
At present, the UN recognises elder abuse as a public
health and human rights issue.
The grim fact, according to the report, is that 98 per
cent of the elderly in India surveyed did not file any
official complaint. "This showed that they are silently
suffering abuse," it said.
The report found 63 per cent of daughters-in-law as the
major abusers of the elderly, followed by the sons (44 per
The HelpAge report said that Delhi NCR region reported
the highest (100 per cent) number of the incidences in the
hands of daughters-in-laws.
The percentage of elderly reporting ownership status of
house living is among the lowest in Kolkata (15 per cent).
It said that nearly 52 per cent of the elderly
surveyed were illiterate and 66 per cent were financially
dependent on others with half of the elderly depending on
daughters-in-law for assistance in daily activities.
"A very high 85 per cent of the elders were dependent
on others for medical expenditure," it said.
The survey report further revealed that nearly 60 per
cent of the elderly consider verbal abuse as elder abuse
while 48 per cent felt physical abuse constitutes elder abuse.
"As a result of the current aging scenario, there is
a growing need for care of the older persons in terms of
social, economic, health and shelter. Security of older
persons in India is also emerging as an issue.
"With more old people living longer, the households are
getting smaller and congested, causing stress in families and
marginalization, isolation and insecurity among older
persons," it added.