Abuse of the elderly by family members dates back to many centuries. It
remained a private matter, hidden from public view, until the advent of
initiatives to address child abuse and domestic violence that took place in the
last quarter of the 20th century.
Abuse of the elderly, like other forms of
family violence, began as a social welfare issue and later evolved into a
problem of ageing, but now it is a public health and criminal justice concern.
As a result, these two fields i.e. public health and criminal justice : have
largely shaped how abuse of the elderly is perceived, analysed, and dealt with.
International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse1 states that:
abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring
within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm
or distress to an older.
These types of abuse are generally classified as follows:
- Physical abuse: Infliction of pain or injury, physical coercion, or
physical or drug:induced restraint are few examples.
- Mental abuse: Abuse of the mind, whether psychological or emotional, is
the infliction of mental anguish.
- Financial abuse: It is the illegal or improper exploitation or use of an
elderly person's funds or resources.
- Sexual abuse: It is defined as any form of non:consensual sexual contact
with an elderly person.
- Neglect: It is defined as the refusal or failure to fulfil a caregiver
obligation. This could include a conscious and intentional attempt to cause
physical or emotional distress to the elderly person.
What is the condition of Elderly citizens in India:
According to the report by Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI), 2 the
prevalence of the practice among the elderly was proportionately higher in Bihar
(12%), Karnataka (10%), West Bengal (8%), Uttar Pradesh (6%), Chandigarh (6%),
and Chhattisgarh (6%).
According to the report, 77.3 per cent of the elderly who felt ill-treated
complained of verbal/emotional ill-treatment, which can harm their self-worth or
emotional well-being. Almost one-fifth (23.7%) were subjected to physical abuse,
which occurs when a senior is injured as a result of hitting, kicking, pushing,
slapping, burning, or another exhibit of force. Nearly a quarter (26.5%)
experienced economic exploitation, which is the misappropriation of an elderly
person's money, property, and assets. More than half of the elderly were
neglected (52.6 per cent).
The above mention data show the relation of the abuser with the elderly,
according to the data, it has been concluded that mostly elder are prone to be
abused by the son/daughter/grandchildren.
Article 413 of Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution
directs the state to provide assistance for older persons and also their rights
to get maintenance from their children has been embedded under Section 1254 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 20075
established a legal framework in support of the elderly, requiring children and
property heirs to care for and support the poor elderly, as well as trying to
encourage state governments to establish old-age homes for the disadvantaged
elderly. The act anticipates the state providing assistance for financial
security, healthcare, shelter, welfare, protection from abuse and exploitation,
and other needs of the elderly.
An overview of the Act:
The Act's Objects and Reasons clear the fact that it refers to traditional norms
and values of Indian society. India, the land of the Upanishads that profess Matru Pitru Devo Bhava
has become increasingly superficial, and we have become more self-centered. The act's goal is to provide physical, financial, and
emotional assistance to all senior citizens who are in need.
The act contains 32 sections divided into seven chapters that provide several
basic yet important rights to elderly people in India.
It includes the right to maintenance, the establishment of old age homes,
medical care, and the protection of a senior citizen's life and property, as
well as provisions to punish those who abandon a senior citizen completely. The
Act requires children or legal heirs to provide their parents or grandparents
with basic necessities.
Maintenance Tribunals have been established to ensure
that the law is enforced. Monthly maintenance of up to Rs. 10,000 can be
awarded, and the children or relatives must deposit this within 30 days of the
Moreover, the state governments have been charged with ensuring that each
district has at least one old age home for homeless senior citizens. Adequate
medical facilities, as well as senior citizen security, must be provided.
Special arrangements, such as separate queues and hospital beds, must also be
Courts have time to time tried to imply through their orders that the Act's
implementation is still not sufficient. According to studies, a lack of
awareness of rights among the elderly is a major reason for the legislation's
ineffective implementation. Emotional attachment to children, physical
inability to fight a case and social stigma associated with living in old age
homes are some of the other reasons why parents/ senior citizens do not seek
maintenance through the legal system. Still, there is numerous judgment by
Courts that seems to uplift the situation of elder people in society.
The number of elderly people in India is rapidly increasing. With an
ever increasing number of elderly people, their voices are increasingly
difficult to ignore. Everyone's attention needs to be drawn to their needs and
rights. Though there are legal provisions and practices dealing with old age, it
rarely influences the path of creating and developing a socially harmonious
environment for the elderly.
Thus, there is an urgent need to reevaluate
existing legal provisions and develop more equitable, effective, and strong
legal provisions to encourage older people: friendly legal practices in the
country. And the same should be followed by an equally ardent spread of
- Available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/ageing/world:elder:abuse:awareness:day.html
- International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), National
Programme for Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE), MoHFW, Harvard T. H. Chan School
of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Southern California (USC) 2020.
Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) Wave 1, 2017:18, India Report,
International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai.
- Art 41 of Indian Constitution: Right to work, to education and to public
assistance in certain cases The State shall, within the limits of its
economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the
right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of
unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of
- Section 125 of The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Act 2 of 1974:
Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents.
- The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007,
Act no. 56 of 2007.
Laws for Senior citizens in India
Judicial Approach towards the Rights of Elderly Persons
Rights of Senior Citizen - The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior
Citizens Bill, 2007