Group seeks law against abuse of elders
As the world marks the ‘Elder Abuse Awareness Day’, a non-profit organization, Centre for Gender Economics (CGE), has stressed the need for the government to strengthen laws against elder abuse in Nigeria.
Specifically, the group demands that all concerned Nigerian citizens work to end elder abuse, and promote the rights of elders. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), elder abuse takes diverse forms: abandonment by family members, physical violence, financial fraud, scams, theft, inadequate care or absolute neglect in homes, and all categories of discrimination.
Speaking in Lagos, Executive Director, CGE, Uchenna Idoko, said many older persons around the world are abused, neglected or oppressed. This abuse takes place in the home, in the workplace, and in institutions that are supposed to care for the elderly, and what is worse, perpetrators are in every often close family members.
“Regrettably, we will never know the magnitude of elder abuse; this is because so many cases go unreported. Indeed, many older persons suffer in silence, afraid to report abuse because of shame and fear, especially if it concerns family members on whom they are dependent,” she said.
According to Idoko, older women are especially vulnerable to abuse and violence because of discriminatory societal attitudes and non-realization of human rights. This is often exacerbated by poverty and lack of access to legal protection. In Nigeria, harmful traditional practices result in abuse and violence of older women.
“Society neglects the elderly and celebrates youth. They are constantly reminded that they are no longer beautiful and have long become a burden to family and society.”
She said CGE Africa with support from Global Affairs Canada, and Action Aid Nigeria, is shining the light on these women whose shoulders generations have climbed on to rise.
“Our aim is to emphasize on their rights to joy by building their confidence, and self-care consciousness. Elderly persons are essential in the fabric of our society. It’s time for us to acknowledge their importance and identify that they are entitled to the respect of their communities and especially their families.
She therefore called for support to confront ageism, while charging the elderly to speak out against this terrible crime in our communities, and the society at large.
She also stressed the need for use of new technologies to protect older persons from abuse, while encouraging use of data to track elder abuse in order to address the problem.