December 1, 2009

INDIA: Agency starts campaign against abuse of elders

. MUMBAI, Maharashtra / Daily News & Analysis / Mumbai / December 1, 2009 By Surekha S / DNA "Elders are neglected and ill-treated in almost all houses today," said Vitthal Dalvi, a 73-year-old resident of BDD Chawl, Parel. "For elders who do not have a pension and are completely dependent on their children, the difficulties are even more." According to Alpa Desai, coordinator, the Family Welfare Agency, an NGO, almost 40% of senior citizens are abused in some way or the other -- financial, emotional or physical -- but only one in six cases comes to light. Hence the need was felt to launch a campaign against elder abuse. The city-based agency working with senior citizens and their rights launched a campaign on November 29. Flagged off at Mumbai's Nehru Centre, the campaign saw the presence of VN Deshmukh, retired additional director general of police, producer/director Kalpana Lajmi and Dr Parasuraman, director, Tiss. While Deshmukh spoke about the role of the police in safety of senior citizens, Lajmi stressed about the role of the media in raising awareness. There was a campaign poster exhibition at the Warli Hall. In the coming few weeks, there will be street plays, interactive focus group discussions and workshops as part of the campaign. "We plan to hold discussions in different areas of Mumbai and with senior citizens. Many of them don't talk about it out of fear," said Desai. Jayashree Patil (name changed) said that she had a very difficult time with her daughter-in-law. "She would talk roughly to me all the time and I had to do all my work by myself, including cooking. It was getting very difficult for me. But after I got to know about FWA, I gained some confidence. "The most important thing was knowing that there is someone to support me. The social workers came to my house and spoke to my daughter-in-law as well. She is a little more subtle since then. It is very important for elders to know that such a support system exists." According to Laxmi Anjarlekar, the problems start after the kids get married and start families of their own. "They then feel they have their kids to look after and we amount to unnecessary expenditure," said Anjarlekar. "Such campaigns will help as elders will know whom to approach. No parents want to go to the cops or the court against their own children. Such organisations provide that support and necessary counselling as well." [rc] Copyright © 2007-2008 Diligent Media Corporation Ltd.