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Elder Abuse Laws: Definition and Meaning
The harsh facts of today's world are completely different from how people used to revere and worship their parents in earlier times. The ability of the younger and older family members to cope is currently being tested more frequently than ever. There are occasions when younger family members exhibit undesirable behavior that the older family members perceive as aberrant, which leaves them feeling abandoned and disheartened.
What Does Elder Abuse Mean?
Children view parents as a burden that no one wants to bear. This is the cause of the appalling situations in which many parents can be discovered wandering around or abandoned in nursing facilities. The current state of affairs is quite absurd and horrifying when even animals receive more love and devotion than people while people are treated worse than animals. It is abhorrent how ruthlessly children are deserting their parents.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder abuse as a single, repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, that occurs within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust and harms or distresses an older person. Elder abuse is also referred to as elder mistreatment, senior abuse, abuse in later life, abuse of older adults, abuse of older women, and abuse of older men. It is not always the case that abuse is committed by children alone; it can also be committed by anyone who is reliant on an elderly person, such as a spouse, family member, or other individual.
However, the abuse committed by children is the main issue that needs to be addressed (including their spouse). Although the phrase "abuse" seems to be somewhat straightforward, it is actually quite complex and has a very wide definition. It comes in a variety of forms, including neglect, financial abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical violence.
Why We Need Elder Abuse Law?
Parents are the ones that dedicate their entire lives in raising their children and do everything in their power to help them become civilized members of society. Therefore, it is responsibility of children to support their parents in the same way. But when the circumstances are reversed, most of the children appear to run away from their responsibilities. It is completely normal for parents to face challenges and disabilities as they aged.
The current generation is less likely to adhere to cultural values and ethics because of children's self-centered behavior and a gradual transition to western society. Another factor contributing to such behavior is people's growing greed and unending desire to be wealthy and powerful. In order to get their parents to give up their property and other possessions in favor of their children, they mistreat their parents and take advantage of them emotionally and intellectually.
Speaking about statistics, the percentage of individuals over 60 in the world has grown from 9.2% in 1990 to 11.7 in 2013, and it is predicted that this percentage will continue to rise until 2050, when it is expected to reach roughly 21.1%. Therefore, it is straightforward to state that the elderly population will grow in the future. India is getting older every day, with 8.3% of the population being 60 years of age or older.
Consequently, in order to fulfill the physical, emotional, mental, and financial needs of the elderly, we must alter our approach to demographic patterns. The older generation has come to the realization that they are more of a burden to their offspring. Living with their relatives, elderly people can experience feelings of marginalization and insecurity since they are unable to adapt to changes because of the generational divide. Additionally, as people age, they have certain infirmities that make them dependent on others for daily tasks. This dependence on others frequently contributes to people's declining confidence.
Elderly Abuse Legislation in India
The subject of what we are doing to address this issue and whether our nation has any relevant provisions is raised. The important legislation that has been introduced in this regard is −
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
The Act stipulated that the sons were under a duty to care for their elderly parents. After a change in the law in 2013, the sons might be legally held responsible for not providing support for their parents. In the 2018 modification, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law were also held accountable for providing support to their in-laws.
As per the Act of 2007, children and legal guardians are now required by law to pay elders' support. Each district's old-age homes may be established and maintained by the state government. If a senior citizen cannot sustain himself, they may request a monthly payment from their offspring. Failure to maintain elderly individuals could result in punishment for the offspring or heirs. The penalty might be a 5,000 rupee fine, three months in jail, or both.
Some societal adjustments are unavoidably required, such as raising elderly people's awareness of their legal rights and the many forms of relief they may be eligible for. Additionally, lawmakers must broaden their understanding of the term "needs," as they frequently fail to understand the social "needs" of belongingness, holding onto power, and having a significant position in the family—a set of needs that are frequently unspoken—and only prioritize economic needs for survival.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Which law addresses elder abuse?
Ans. The Criminal Procedure Code's Section 125 permits support to parents and the wife, which indirectly covers the interim maintenance of elderly parents and ensures their financial security.
Q2. What legal rights do older people have?
Ans. The right of older citizens to employment, education, and public aid is guaranteed by Article 41 of the Constitution. Additionally, it guarantees that the state will protect these rights in instances of illness, old age, or disability.
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