Distress calls to elders' helpline more than double in 4 years

Distress calls to elders' helpline more than double in 4 years

For 70-year-old Devaiah and his wife Nithya (both names changed), life became miserable when their daughter-in-law, in connivance with their son, began harassing them for transferring a property in the latter’s name.

The couple alleged that their daughter-in-law took advantage of their lack of educational qualification and demanded that they transfer the property in her husband’s name or else she would file a case of dowry harassment against them.

Fed up with the constant harassment, Nithya approached the elder’s helpline and lodged a complaint against her son and daughter-in-law for verbally and physically abusing her as well as her husband. A stern warning by policemen working at the helpline forced the son and his wife to move out of the house where the elderly couple now live in relative peace. The story of this elderly couple is just one of many. The number of calls to the elders’ helpline, being operated out of the police commissioner’s office, more than doubled in four years. The helpline had received 6,950 distress calls in 2010-11.
The number stood at 16,982 in 2014-15. This fact came to light on Monday at an event organised by the Bengaluru City police and the Nightingales Medical Trust to mark the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2015.

Speaking at the interaction session, Sandhya, a co-ordinator at the helpline, said: “Even though we receive about 60-70 calls almost every day, just one or two of these actually transform into complaints in which legal action is taken. Most of the elderly people are reluctant to give written complaints against their own children,” she said.

Statistics provided by the Nightingale Medical Trust, which works extensively with senior citizens, show that in close to 35 per cent cases of elderly abuse, the wrongdoers are their own children.

The need of the hour, said Dr Radha S Rao, Managing Trustee, Nightingale Medical Trust, is to ensure that senior citizens are a priority. “Awareness about elder abuse is increasing, which reflects in the number of calls we get. But that’s not enough. Lack of a proper support system for elders is still a big problem,” she added.

The State government’s policy for senior citizens was introduced in 2003 but is not being enforced properly. “Nobody even knows about the policy, forget its enforcement,” Dr Rao lamented.


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