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Elder Abuse in India – a case of Human Rights violations


Elder Abuse.  It is actually a complex phenomenon which describes the act and effects of abusing an elderly person. For more on this subject please read WHO’s Report on Missing Voices (World Health Organization).

If you are looking for the specific LAW through which Parents & Senior Citizens (Elders) can seek protection against the abusive behaviour of their children then please visit  this link. 

Given below are some real life cases of Elder Abuse in India. These cases though are only a tip of the iceberg !

Each case is a story of abandonment, harassment and torture. Each case reveals glaring violations of HUMAN RIGHTS  of the old and the infirm. Each case shows how one’s own children can commit such INHUMAN Acts.

Though Elder Abuse can have perpetrators outside one’s own family too… but then the majority of cases happen when the elderly people’s own family is not treating them well.

Along with cases some news links on startling facts about Elder Abuse in India are also enumerated.


(A) Old Mothers are abandoned
Widowed elderly women who are dependent on their children are badly treated by them. In majority of cases the perpetrators think that by abandoning them on streets they would be able to rid themselves of their responsibility.

Ram  Pyaari (Age 75) :  She was beaten by her elder son and daughter-in-law who refused to give her food. Her younger son to whom she reportedly gave away all her wealth abandoned her on a bus-stop in Delhi. She was left to die on the street by her 2 sons.

His wife tells me that I am a burden for them since I am not earning. My health does not allow me to work, I want to die instead of living such a humiliating life.

Lakshmi (Age 77) :  Her son is in army, but after marriage refused to look after her.

…my son, for whom I devoted my entire life, refused to even feed me when I was there. He scolded me if I did not work and earn.

Chinnammal Palaniappan (Age 75) :  This old woman told locals who found her that her own family had driven her in a cattle feed cart and then dumped her on top of a garbage pile. She was left to die, for they had abandoned her.

We heard some moaning from the dump yard and when we went over we were shocked to find an old shrivelled woman lying in filth.  

Rada Rani Biswas (Age 70) :  She is reduced to begging on the streets of Vrindavan after her family including her son, ostracized her. Her son said…

“You have grown old. Now who is going to feed you? Go away.” ….. Her eyes filled with tears when she said, “What do I do? My pain had no limit.”



(B) Old Fathers are abandoned
It is not that women alone are mistreated by their family. Elderly men are also abused and abandoned by their children.

Old and ill fathers are ill-treated and discarded like garbage by their own family. And this generally happens when fathers stop earning or become dependent on their children.

I find it abhorring to see a growing prevalence of selfishness in Indian population.

How can they forget that their own existence is a gift from their parents ? 

Children exist because their parents nourish them. Then why are people running away from the moral responsibility of even caring for their parents ???

I find only one answer for this…

Fast DEGRADING moral values of Indians ! 

And I for one do not subscribe to craps like….”no means to support them”….”lack of space at home”….”no money”…. “strict in-laws”….”thinking doesn’t match”….”defecating in house” (yes…you read that right)….and then some say….”interfering in-laws”….blah blah blah !

Its a pity that these abusers do not realize that one day they too would be sailing in the same boat. Their own children would abuse them then, for they would have seen their parents abusing their grand-parents.

B. Satyanarayana (80), a native of Dharmaraopeta in West Godavari district, has five sons and one daughter. The sons were all doing petty businesses. He underwent a knee surgery five months ago and the sons spent Rs.50,000 on the treatment. Later, they neglected him.

Another old man said :  “My son has threatened to kill me, if I bequeath any property to my wife”.



(C) Both Mother and Father are abandoned
Humiliation by one’s own family forces many a parents to leave their nests. Some opt for living in Old Age Homes, while others end up begging on streets.

Its a gruesome scenario by all standards… and no amount of penal provision can compensate for the dishonor and humiliation suffered by these elderlies.

Government at best can promulgate laws… which is good ! 

But then its seriousness in tackling Elder Abuse would emerge only if these laws are implemented the way they are meant to be. 

Still… how many parents would file complaints against their own children ? 

Not many.

So till then… harassed parents would keep moving out of their supposed families and look for refuge in homes outside.

Sister Mary of the Home for the Aged says…

Earlier, we have had senior citizens left here by families. Today, more and more couples come to us on their own.

Old Age Homes preferred by many elders :

In many cases, the family members left them in the lurch, as they were unable to take care of them. ….The trend is on the rise, we received many calls from public run hospitals who are unable to discharge the patients.

Abandoned and old they watch life go by : Most abandoned old people have sons and daughters or other relatives who could take care of them. But they don’t.

We are just waiting for death to release us.



(D) False criminal charges are filed to torture the Old 
This is another way of harassing the elderlies in India. An abuser of law would find it pretty easy to crucify old people at home by taking undue refuge in law in the guise of ’seeking protection’.

False ‘Dowry harassment’ charges to torture in-laws : This seems to be the easiest way to harass old people in India (despite what Amnesty International prefers to believe).

False bogus dowry harassment charges are filed by miscreants without any fear whatsoever.

And why no fear ? 

Because there are absolutely no penalties for filing false dowry harassment charges in India !  And also because a mere complaint is enough to arrest without investigation (the offence is cognizable).

I wonder how Elder Abuse is any less in terms of gravity than Dowry Harassment in India ! 

And what when the fabricators of ‘false dowry harassment charges’ themselves are perpetrators of Elder Abuse in family ? 

Or do the government or women NGOs prefer to believe that even in genuine cases of dowry harassment it is OK if Elder Abuse is committed in one’s defense ???

Infact both Judiciary and Police are aware of such malpractices. Even the legislators are aware of rampant misuse of anti-Dowry Laws but they FEAR speaking openly about them. 

Shankar had sought the help of local miscreants to get the family evicted from the house. Shankar is a member of a political party. …..Shankar had the backing of his wife Ujjala and his father-in-law who is a state police officer. Ujjala had even filed a complaint under Section 498A of the IPC alleging harassment. 



(E) Major Reason : Interest in Parent’s Wealth (Property) 
Who doesn’t like money ? But then to think of acquiring it by harassing one’s own parents is unthinkable ! 

But then… this world has all kinds of people.

There are growing instances of children abusing their parents because they think that by harassing and depriving them of their basic needs they can force their parents to relinquish all property rights in their favour.

This is nothing but growing crime and criminality in Domestic environs.  People (children in this case) turn criminals when they start harboring malicious intentions.

And forget about harboring alone… they start executing those intentions !! 

Majority of cases on Elder Abuse are those where the perpetrator wants to grab the property of the elderly. 4 instances are quoted below…

- Prakash Mhatre (69) and his wife Sangeeta (63),… are facing eviction—and it is not because of the landlord. The one who is harassing them to leave is their son, Sandeep (44), who wants to sell their house.

- Anjum Patil (68), a widow….approached the police as a last resort, tired of the string of verbal abuses and threats she was facing from her 32-year-old son and his wife. They want her to sign over the property to them

- Anand Joshi (72) complained to the police about his 28-year-old banker son who refused to support him and was threatening to evict him from his own house.

In Delhi, an old lady suffering from arthritis was forced by her son to move to the second floor to sell off the other floors to a local builder and move out. The lady died soon after.



Some FACTS on Elder Abuse in India
1. According to HelpAge India, majority of elderlies are abused by their own children. A whopping 47.3 per cent cases of Elder Abuse are reported to have children as perpetrators ! 

2. Old people are taking care of the old now :  I wonder where our society is headed !

3. When families break-up, the elderly suffer the most. In majority of cases they are left to fend for themselves. 

Studies conducted recently among old people show that over 35 per cent of the elderly in urban areas and 32 per cent in rural areas live alone. There is nobody to look after them – and financial constraints and lack of security add to their troubles. ….An increasing number of the elderly are now looking for employment, mostly for low wages, and under insecure and unhealthy working conditions. 

4. Successful suicides are highest among Senior citizens, says Dr. Harish Awasthi, a mental health activist.

5. Children disowning their parents only speaks of moral degradation of society. It also bespeaks of torrid times in store for future India…. where the younger generation is more intent on doing away with the old. 

6. Mindless westernization has brought back slavery to India !  The younger generation is aping the concept of doing away with their parents by sending them to old age homes. For some though it might be a genuine solution to a genuine problem but for a large majority it is otherwise !


New emerging Trends
This one comes as a shocker  :  And could be a growing trend since women are taking to crime as well.  DCP Sanjay Mohite,  in charge of the Social Counselling Cell of Mumbai Police says…

Recently, I had to intervene in a case in which a young woman was beating and threatening her own mother, who had approached us reluctantly. I called the daughter to my office and told her in no uncertain terms that she should stop this ill treatment at once.

..which compels me to make this comment…

When a daughter can beat and threaten her own mother then what makes one presume that she would not ill-treat her own mother-in-law ?????  That too when there is no law to stop her from doing so ??   

Well… to conclude… these were only a few insights into Elder Abuse in India. I am sure there must be more of these kinds or even new.

If you know of links or real life instances of more such cases or trends then please do share them .