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Kenya sees increased cases of abuse among elderly people 

By Mitchelle Jena, editorial@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Abuse among the elderly has been reported to be in the increase over the years with Kilifi, Kwale, Kisii, Nyamira, Tana River, Kirinyaga being he leading counties.

Despite the heart-breaking stories reported where older persons have been targeted and killed on baseless accusations of practicing witchcraft and being grey haired.

Many more of these cases go unreported and hidden from authorities.

According to the National Legal Arc Service, only 10 percent of cases on elders who are abused are report to the authorities.

Florah Koech, a presentative from the service said that failure to reporting such cases is attributed to lack of legal information among the elderly.

She says that most of the abuse elders fail to make reports following the fear of victimization.

“Most of the elderly fail to make reports when they are abused because they don’t have the slightest idea of where to file their reports. Others just fail to report because they fear victimization by their abusers,” said Koech.

According to the coordinator, the elderly around the country are majorly abused by their close relatives and immediate family members.

In most cases, family members abuse the elderly knowingly or unknowingly.

Types of abuse

Elderly people are prone to different kinds of abuse including emotional and verbal abuse which includes discrimination on the basis of age, insults and hurtful words, denigration, intimidation, false accusations, psychological pain and distress.

They also face financial abuse through extortion and control of pension money, theft of property, and exploitation of older people to force them to care for grandchildren.

Sexual abuse has also been reported among the elderly including incest, rape and other types of sexual oppression.

Neglect and loss of respect for elders, withholding of affection, and lack of interest in the older person’s well-being has been reported among family and friends with a large number facing accusations of witchcraft causing stigmatization.

Physical and financial abuse is reported to be the most reported among the elderly in the country with Central province recording the highest number of cases.

According to the Department of Social Development, abuse cases in the area majorly generate from land issues.

“Most of the people in that area will want to get rid of the elderly people so as to benefit from their property. In most cases they would want to inherit their land and that is s reason to abuse them,” said Jane Thiga, Deputy Director of Social Development.

20 percent of the elderly people are prone to illegal and improper use of their funds, property and resources.
According to the director, financial abuse majorly results from family members and close relatives who solicit funds from the elderly.

“Most of the elderly who have an income are abused by others when their money is forcefully taken from them. Others take advantage of their old age and solicit funds from them without their knowledge,” said Thiga.

The director added that cash attained from cash transfer programmes are majorly solicited from the beneficiaries either willingly or unwillingly.

According to her, most of the family members take advantage of the old age to steal from the elderly.

“Some may have lost their memory on how to access the money and they ask for assistance from others who end up stealing from them. An elderly person may not even realise that their money has been stolen,” Thiga said.

Most of the cases of abuse have also gone unreported following an assumption that no action can be taken by the law.

Cases of abuse are majorly solved among family member, leading to the reoccurrence of the cases.

Elders who have been abused have 300 percent high risk of deaths when compared to those who have not been mistreated.

Financial exploitation is reported at higher rates  than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.

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