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Defending Family Honour:
The Elders Silently Suffer
Nalinaksha Mutsuddi Bookmark and Share

I thought honour killing is confined in the Muslim countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now it has come to our own backyard – the Indian state of Haryana. And it’s spreading other northern states as well. In all such cases the culprits are mainly the females – young or old. The youngsters falling in love with boys, disregarding the consent of the family guardians,  bring dishonor to the family. Or others indulging in adultery.  In order to protect the reputation of the family the very close relatives of the culprits eliminate them in the most brutal way. Such honour killing is related to sexual misconduct mainly.

Now, a different kind of family honour is coming to surface in India. Our time-honored family bond is on the wane. Earlier stronghold of respect and care for the elderly is becoming extinct. The cordial relation with children and parents is wanting. The age old legacy of dignified status of old people is no more visible. Under the growing trend, the parents are neither regarded nor looked after well. In addition they are being subjected to physical abuse. Their property is usurped forcibly and they are tortured bodily. This is a rapidly emerging trend. In a survey of 20 cities of India, HelpAge found 56% of sons are responsible for abusing their parents. There are numerous such cases.  Overall number may be more throughout the country. The condition of the financially dependent parents is worse. The degradation became so rampant that government of India was forced to enact laws to protect the elderly parents from the torture, neglect and abuse of children. 

But the fact is that many old people don’t want to disclose that they are not looked after well, or abused by the children. Because, they think it will disgrace the family honour.  They think this will lower their image in the society. Though the legal provision is there, the elders are reluctant to take this recourse in order to preserve the good reputation of the family. So they silently and helplessly suffer till death. This is the saddest part of the sun-set years of increasing number of seniors today.

Now a court proceeding is going on in a Mumbai court:  Shiv Chetanram Krip vs  his son Bhagvan Shiv krip and grandson  Prashant Bhagvan Krip. Shiv Chetram is 96 year old. A man of such advanced age is compelled to seek legal aid for granting maintenance from his son. 

Shiv Chetanram alleges that he was forced to sign a gift deed by making his will invalid and void. Krip is the first senior citizen in Maharashtra whose case is being heard by the tribunal set up under Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen s Act, 2007. Setting up tribunals in Mumbai will have a greater impact on cases for the elderly throughout the country because of the sheer visibility of the cases.

The judgement in the Krip’s case could set a legal precedent for the rights of elderly for years to come. It is hoped other suffering seniors would take a cue from this example and come out of the prevailing shell of so-called ‘family honour’ and take bold action against their erring children and get redress. The mindset of seniors must keep pace with changing time.
   


08/09/2012
More by :  Nalinaksha Mutsuddi
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