Old People Suffer Regular Abuse

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Although the majority of elderly people in Namibia have been safe and secure in the past 16 years, a large percentage are still subjected to violence and abuse. According to the latest ‘Report on the Status and Living Conditions of Older People in Namibia,’ released recently by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, senior citizens in the Oshana Region face the highest incidents of physical, emotional, domestic and sexual abuse. On the issue of safety and security, the 49-page report says incidents of physical abuse were highest in Oshana where 51,1 percent of the respondents interviewed reported physical abuse at some stage in their lives. The region also reportedly has the highest instances of sexual abuse. “The highest instance of respondents reporting abuse in their communities were in the Oshana Region where 66,9 percent of respondents reported instances of physical abuse, 39,4 percent of respondents reported sexual abuse and 58 percent reported emotional abuse,” reads the report compiled by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. It also turns out that cases of domestic violence are high in the same region where 54 percent of the respondents admitted to the abuse. Following in the line on domestic abuse against the elderly is the Kunene Region at 53,3 percent and the Hardap Region in third place with 42,3 percent of the respondents complaining about the same problem. It is reported that most of these violent crimes against senior citizens are perpetrated by those closest to them, like relatives or even family members and this is especially the case in remote rural areas. In some cases, some elderly people even go missing. Police crime statistics show that 51-year-old Johannes Jakobus Lukas (alias Boetieman) went missing from Guixabes reserve area in the Karasburg district last month. “He speaks Nama, is 1,4 meters tall, of stout build with short black hair and brown eyes,” is the last description given by the police. The old man was said to be mentally disturbed. Just as much as one hears or reads about incidents of rape of young children, elderly women have also fallen victim to the crime, especially in the rural villages. Two months ago, a 50-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted and raped by a 16-year-old male near the graveyard in Aroab. The suspect was arrested by the police. Besides violence against senior citizens that negatively affect their safety and security in Namibia, many of them are affected by the social problem of alcohol abuse. The health ministry’s report states that the issue of excessive substance consumption is often a sensitive one. “The high incidence of alcohol consumption among older people in certain regions, especially Kavango, Ohangwena and Omusati” is also evident in the report’s findings. With regard to health service provision for the elderly, almost 90 percent of the respondents have access to a modern health facility. However, Oshikoto Region was worst off with 31,4 percent of respondents not having access to a health facility. While most regions’ respondents were satisfied with the health services available, “in the Caprivi 53,1 percent and Kunene 57,3 percent of the respondents felt that the health services were poor or very poor,” states the report. Currently, the health ministry is drafting a new Bill on the Rights, Protection and Care of Older People. The Bill includes aspects like the establishment of the Namibia Council for Older People, stipulations about the protection and care of older people, the regulation of homes for old people and the institution of community-based care services and shelters for old people. Seven percent of Namibia’s population is over 60 years.