News / Africa

Older Kenyans Seek Protection From Abuses

Elderly Kenyans gathered to share testimonies of abuse and call for international legislation protecting the rights of older people in Nairobi, June 16, 2014. (Roopa Gogineni/VOA)
Elderly Kenyans gathered to share testimonies of abuse and call for international legislation protecting the rights of older people in Nairobi, June 16, 2014. (Roopa Gogineni/VOA)
Roopa Gogineni
— As the world's elderly population grows, many countries struggle to reduce violence against older residents.

A day after World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, older Kenyans gathered in Nairobi to call for a United Nations convention on the rights of older people.

In Kilifi County along Kenya’s coast, 41 older people accused of witchcraft have been murdered this year alone. Sixty-one were killed in 2013.

Local authorities said many more cases go unreported.
 
A former long-distance truck driver living in the village of Kaya Godoma, Kenga Charo, opened his home to those fleeing such accusations.  

He has sheltered more than 200 elderly victims of abuse.

If you are old or aging, you can be accused of being a witch, Charo said.

Elder abuse

He gave an example: Maybe a young man wants you to sell a piece of land, but you do not want to sell it because it’s family land. The young man will force you to sell, and if you do not, they will make an accusation.

If they say you are a witch, you will be identified and definitely be killed. They will sell you out for just $200, $400, Charo said.  
 
Charo and dozens of other elderly Kenyans gathered Monday in Nairobi to demand that Kenya push for a U.N. convention focused on ending violence against older men and women.  

The activists said existing human rights laws do not adequately address their vulnerable population.

Principal Secretary Ali Noor, of Kenya’s Ministry of Labor, addressed the crowd, pledging the continued support of the government to its older citizens.

He noted an increase in Kenya’s aged population, a demographic trend that is accompanied by rapid urbanization.

"In particular, the increased movement of younger persons from rural to urban areas in search of employment has led to major challenges in family structures, resulting in the breakdown of the extended family support systems to older persons in society, with its in-built social protection systems," Noor said.
    
Though the rights of elders are protected in the 2010 Kenyan constitution, cases of elder abuse and neglect persist in the country.

Witchcraft allegations

"Today we are here because in our country, we are hearing that older people are hunted. They are killed. They are isolated. They are discriminated [against]," explained Erastus Maina, the director of HelpAge Kenya, a civil society group serving older Kenyans.

In rural Kenya, it is often allegations of witchcraft that lead to such abuse.  Maina believes lack of education perpetuates these beliefs.

"Their argument is that people fall sick because they have been bewitched. There is evil," he said. "They fall sick because they are hungry, malnourished, have malaria, or are drinking contaminated water. But these are issues that those communities do not want to argue."  

Maina said he wants the government to take a two-pronged approach to end the violence, by prosecuting the perpetrators and by addressing the widespread belief in witchcraft.

UN report

According to a U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) report on aging, released on Sunday, witchcraft accusations used to justify extreme violence against older women are reported in 41 African and Asian countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal and Tanzania.

Older women are at particular risk due to widespread discriminatory attitudes and practices, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message about the awareness day posted on the United Nations news website.

But there is no clear picture of the actual scope of the neglect, violence and abuse of older women, its complexity and diversity, UN DESA reported.

The U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) said that abuse is under-reported by as much as 80 percent.

The global population of people aged 60 years and older is expected to more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025, the report stated.

The share of older persons (aged 60 years or older) in the total population increased from 9 percent in 1994 to 12 percent in 2014, and is expected to reach 21 percent by 2050, according to the UN DESA report.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid