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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora