Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
 Nayantara N | The News Minute | December 24, 2014 | 11.10 pm IST In the ripe old age when the elderly look forward to a helping hand from their children, 86-year-old Savitramma was in for a shock when she was mercilessly thrown out of her own house by her children. But police intervention gave her temporary respite. While she was still recovering from the jolt, she discovered through assessing her electricity bills that the house was no longer in her name. One of her children had illegally transferred the house to their name. Rajeshwari from Tumakuru is bed ridden, with an amputated right leg. Her husband died 15 years ago and since then, she has been living alone with the meagre income she gets. But one day, her world shook when she realised her daughter Teja had usurped the house taking advantage of her medical condition. 65-year-old Vishalakshi from Bengaluru is another example of the cruel treatment meted out to the elderly by their children or relatives. Her son had fraudulently transferred the house by forcing her to sign on a gift deed. This is the harsh reality in Karnataka that the Human Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF) in Udupi has been fighting to set right. In the last eight months, the Foundation has received 192 cases from senior citizens who have been cheated. According to a survey conducted by NGO Help Age India, the findings of its 2014 report indicate that 50% of elders experience abuse of some kind. Verbal abuse (41%), disrespect (33%) and neglect (29%) are the common kinds of abuse experience by them. ‘Emotional dependence on the abuser’ (46%), ‘economic dependence on the abuser’ (45%) and ‘changing ethos’ (38%) have been cited as the primary reasons for abuse. Bengaluru is reportedly the highest (75%) among Tier I cities in connection to the abuse of elderly. Dr. Ravindranath Shanbhag, the President of the foundation, also claims that he receives the highest numbers of complaints from Bengaluru than any other district in Karnataka. However, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 comes to the rescue of those who find themselves engaged in property tangle. Dr. Shanbhag stumbled upon this Act while researching for a remedy for Savitriamma. Explaining the process, Dr. Shanbhag said, “The distressed don’t have to approach the courts. A simple application addressing the assistant commissioner of the district can set the process rolling. We generally try to mediate between the children and the parents before approaching the legal route as it saves times and avoids the stigma for both.” He claims that 42 cases have been resolved by mediating between the parents and their children. According to the law, the concerned Tribunal is required to deliver the verdict within 90 days of its receipt along with returning of the property of the complainant. They are also entitled to maintenance of up to Rs 10,000 by their children or relatives. Additionally, Under Section 24, children who wholly abandon a parent or a senior citizen is liable to imprisonment of up to 3 months or Rs. 5,000 fine. While the Act is boon to senior citizens, its usage has been limited due to the lack of awareness. “Several times I visit the police station and other government agencies and I find that people are unaware that such an Act exists,” he said. Today, all the three women have regained their property and are getting monthly maintenance from their children thanks to the Act. Tweet
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