MANEPO National Coordinator Andrew Kavala explained that the organization is doing a lot to raise awareness on abuse leveled towards the elderly and want people to know that it is against the law to abuse older persons in whatever form.
Kavala noted that many of these victims are frail, neglected and vulnerable; cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs hence needed protection.
“Our laws have been silent so all we want is to lobby with government and relevant authorities so that as we review the law, issues of elderly abuse should be taken on board and that will help to stop these cases of elderly abuse.
Without the law it becomes an issue but with the law in place, it’s easier to stop this malpractice” Kavala observed.
Speaking at the event marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Lilongwe, Chief Elderly Programmes Officer in the Ministry of Elderly and Disabilities Steve Vinkhumbo acknowledged the abuse which the elderly face adding that government is trying to raise awareness so that they are brought to the open.
While noting that there is not much in terms of the law as regards to the protection of older persons, Vinkhumbo hoped once the elderly become aware of their rights they can come in the open if violated.
He disclosed that Malawi is currently participating in the discussions at the United Nations to look at the possibility of establishing a legally binding framework that can strengthen the promotion and protection of older people’s rights.
“Locally we are also trying to make sure that whenever there is a review of the existing laws, we try to see to it that the review encompasses ways how old people can be protected” said Vinkhumbo.
The Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations to provide an opportunity to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons.
According to the UN, each year hundreds of thousands of elder persons are abused, neglected and exploited.
Life for 83 year old Moya Jameson who lives alone in Mzengereza Village at Ngwenya in Lilongwe is hard as he lives in a dilapidated house and fends for himself.
Jameson whose wife is in the village and has difficulties with movement lamented that he usually gets sick and when he visits the hospital for help he is not given the necessary help by health workers.
“We want to be assisted faster at the hospital simply because we are old and have problems getting there and usually we walk to the hospital on foot due to lack of money” Lamented Jameson.
“As if this is not enough, we are called witches as we have grown very old and people ask and wonder why we’re not yet dead”
He appealed to government to assist them with food items.