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November 25, 2008

Elder Abuse and Violence Against Women (SE Africa)

No country for old women

In medieval Europe they drowned suspected witches. In south-east Africa today, the killers use machetes

Sukumuland in Tanzania is a traditional and conservative area where reliance on spiritual belief is ingrained into the fabric of daily life. Belief in witchcraft and faith in the rhetoric of traditional healers are manifested in the persecution of older women for events without rational explanation - HIV/Aids deaths, infertility, drought and crop failure. The standing of older people in the community, largely based on age and wisdom, is being eroded as urbanisation and migration have led to the abuse and neglect of older people by their relatives. An increase in violent attacks has left others fearful that they will be next and asking: "Why should I be violated at this age by a child that I made grow?"

Villages along the shores of Lake Victoria have encountered escalating numbers of murders: mostly older women, who have been accused of witchcraft. The only global network striving for the rights of disadvantaged old people, HelpAge International estimates that as many as 1,000 witchcraft-related killings occur in Tanzania annually. Complaints of abuse in both Tanzania and Mozambique are confirmed by the UN Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of the Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).
The reasons for these killings are complex. Tanzania and Mozambique remain two of the poorest countries in the world with over 50% of the population living below the locally defined poverty line.

Leonard Ndamguba from HelpAge International's Mwanza office explained that unlike other crimes, violence against older women is not just tolerated but accepted.

But attitudes to the recording and reporting of elder abuse by local and national authorities are changing.

The number of killings has reduced in areas where work is being done to prevent them but reporting allegations of witchcraft remains highly controversial and often dangerous. A journalist who did not want to be named told me: "We avoid these stories because they are just too difficult to investigate properly."

Abridged
SOURCE: The Guardian UK
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Add a cultural component to the complex issue of Elder Abuse; we then have an almost impossible task to prevent the abuse and to assist the victims. No excuse for inaction, though. It is no wonder that many countries just would not look into elder abuse or just pretend it is not in their country. This is the reality!

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DISCLAIMER

Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty.

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