According to Dr Murad Moosa Khan, there is no evidence to suggest that violence towards the elderly has increased in Pakistani society. Even Mariya Moochhala says: “Violence against the elderly may more be in the form of neglect, rather than physical in nature.”
However, says Khan, migration of younger people abroad and the elderly parents having to fend for themselves are definite factors that are exposing the elderly to a kind of ‘abuse’, though not direct violence towards them.
From his years of research on suicides, Khan says the incidence in the elderly in Pakistan is very low. “This would suggest that despite all the problems of growing old, the elderly continue to enjoy a relatively better and supportive lifestyle as compared to many in the West where suicide rates are very high in the elderly. Social isolation of the elderly is one of the most important contributing factors to elderly suicides there.”
Moochhala, however, says that economic woes could be one reason where the elderly in our society may become a burden thereby leading to friction in the family. She suggests making them productive members of society. “This way we make them contributors in any which little way possible not just to society but to their immediate families too, hence reducing the economic burden.”
Bedar, while agreeing that frustration caused by economic issues can sometimes become a trigger to violence towards the elderly, says she does not believe that this can be the central cause of violence.—Z.T.E.