Indian soap opera 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 times immemorial are portrayed in a positive light and daughter-in-laws in negative.
But, a recent report by the NGO HelpAge INDIA on the eve of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June decoded the above notions. 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 to elderly people is given utmost importance, India is on a rapid rise in elder abuse cases lately.
Different reasons which instigate such a crime
Out of the many reasons for the same, the most alarming reason is property issue i.e., 51%. Insecurity and fear of losing larger share in property prompts family members, mostly sons, to indulge in hurting both physically and mentally, their elderly people.
Every day, with increased awareness and in-dependency 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, as observed in this case- Mrs.Gupta from Jalandhar Punjab, was tortured for 6 yrs 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 security of elderly people, both physical and financial
- Wills should be prepared by the elders in the guidance of a professional, trusted lawyer and should preferably be kept away from the knowledge of the family members.
- Elder care cells should be established with counselors to counsel the distressed and also keep the identities confidential.
- Extra-curricular activities should be initiated among them to keep them fit and active..
- Pensions should be increased as a meager 200rs a month is nothing for sustenance and elders above poverty line should also be covered.
- Workshops should be conducted for spreading awareness about types of abuses and redress mechanisms for the same and building confidence in the law.
- Always have property in your name till you are alive to make sure your children feel your importance in the house.
- Community formation for hearing problems of the elders and formation of strict laws for the perpetrators of this crime.
A Ray of Hope and Help
Movies like Lagey Raho Munnabhai are true inspiration and every elder should take a leaf from it to live a life of peace, dignity and independence, without cribbing over the ill-treatment by their children, because LIFE GOES ON, NO MATTER WHAT THE STATE OR SITUATION IS! Children should be sensitized through plays, ad campaigns and workshops towards their elders. Also, stringent laws are the need of the hour which safeguard the rights and lives of elderly people to help them live with head held high! Elderly people should also be more fearless and aware about the different judicial remedies at their disposal which can prove beneficial in letting them take a strong stand in front of their abusive children!
Old Age Homes, A New Concept
Old age homes are a relatively new concept in India and still in their infancy stage with the moral police opposing it in the name of the ‘rich Indian culture’, but where do these moral policemen hide when elderly people face mental, physical and financial abuse? Indian culture is fast changing, so are the terms and so, instead of leaving elders to live a life of misery and pain, old age homes should be encouraged with different facilities where members are given homely treatment and a drive to move on.
Everyone’s support with initiatives from the elders can go a long way in fruitful outcomes of the struggles of organizations, NGOs and activists fighting against elder abuse.