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

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs