News / USA

June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Elder abuse is expected to rise as global population ages. Credit: HelpAge International
Elder abuse is expected to rise as global population ages. Credit: HelpAge International

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Sunday, June 15, is Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The World Health Organization describes elder abuse as a global social issue affecting the health and human rights of millions of people. It estimates up to six-percent of the elderly are abused at home, with many cases going unreported.
 
Listen to De Capua report on elder abuse
Listen to De Capua report on elder abusei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The U.N. predicts the number of people 60 years old and above will reach about 1.2-billion by 2025. That’s more than double the figure recorded in 1995. And as the global population ages, the U.N. said elder abuse is expected to rise.
 
In Pretoria, South Africa, Necodimus Chipfupa is among those campaigning for the rights of older people. He’s the regional director for southern Africa for HelpAge International.
 
“Elder abuse is a universal problem encountered in many countries – with little recourse at [the] national level where [the] government in some cases may not have specific policies to encounter and remedy where such abuse is taking place.”
 
He said there’s a wide range of abuse against the elderly.
 
“Physical, emotional, sexual, psychological abuses -- and in some cases discrimination and denial of rights for older persons -- thereby taking them as sub-persons in their own nations,” he said
 
And the abuse can be violent.
 
“For example,” he said, “in witchcraft accusations, in the case of Africa, or in circumstances where an older person or an older woman is suffering from Alzheimer’s as a form of dementia – they are labeled as a witch and violently killed. Their property torched.”
 
Chipfupa said some elderly women are raped because of the myth that having sex with an older person can cure someone of HIV/AIDS.
 
The HelpAge International regional director says elderly, who receive government assistance, are also targets.
 
“In some cases, like in South Africa, where older persons receive a social grant, families abuse them and take the money – using it for their own purposes without even consulting the older person. And in such a situation the police having no recourse and not being helpful at all.”
 
Abuse comes in other forms, as well, he said. For example, many who have jobs in the informal sector have no pensions or health insurance to rely on in old age.
 
“With old age non-communicable diseases begin to increase and people really need access to health services. And there are no medical insurances, which they could contribute to and lead to supporting them at old age, as it were. And, therefore, older persons find themselves hit hard when they’re sick and require medical services,” he said.
 
To remedy such problems, there’s a growing call for a U.N. convention on the rights of older people. HelpAge said such a treaty would “set standards prohibiting violence against older men and women that currently do not exist in international human rights law.” And the convention would ensure victims have access to the justice system.
 
Support for the convention is being gathered through the Age Demands Action campaign, which includes a petition. The goal is to collect 300,000 signatures. More than 200,000 have been collected so far. The petition said governments have an “obligation to uphold the rights of older people and protect them from discrimination.”
 
A U.N. working group on ageing will meet in July in New York to gather information and evidence on the need for the convention.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs