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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs