The shocking report on sexual abuse of elderly women presented by Kozhikode South MLA MK Muneer on Wednesday in the Kerala Assembly is the result of a painstakingly prepared report by a handful of human right activists, after a secret investigation that lasted five years.
The said report — a copy of which has been obtained by The News Minute — also sheds light on specific cases of elderly women, some more than 75 years old, being sexually abused by relatives as well as strangers in various districts of Kerala.
“An 85-year old woman was sexually abused by her son-in-law in Murikkumpuzha village. Nobody at home was ready to believe her, as the accused was deemed a gentleman in society. This woman later lost her mental stability,” the report reads.
According to the report, such incidents of sexual abuse within the family rarely make it to the news.
Talking about another incident in Chirayankeezhu, the report says that most victims do not speak out for fear of spoiling the reputation of their children and grandchildren.
“An 87-year old woman was continuously abused by her 19-year old grandson, leaving her depressed and mentally unstable. We found her wandering along the corridors of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. We found bite wounds on her body. Later it was found that her grandson used to sexually abuse her on a regular basis,” the report reveals.
The report also mentions in detail about seven other old women whom they rescued from the streets and who were sexually abused by strangers.
“Saina* (80) who was abandoned by her children on the streets of Veli was raped by a young man one night.”
All the accused in these cases appeared ‘normal’, and were neither alcoholics nor substance-abusers, the report says.
“For years we have been visiting districts across Kerala and almost all these cases talk of deep depravity. I remember a woman whose hands were slashed so badly, but she kept telling us that it was not causing any pain. We are social workers and come across many such cases of sexual abuse, but these have been downright traumatic for us too,” shares MS Sunitha, one of the social workers behind the report.
These women are reportedly not safe in private old-age homes too. On their visits to all old-age homes in the city, the team got to hear “shocking tales of sexual abuse”.
Elderly mothers commit suicide for fear of being abused. “In most cases, these mothers lose their mental stability.”
The report speaks about a daughter who became insane after she learnt that her husband had been sexually abusing her mother for many years.
Her 75-year-old mother never complained, fearing for the happiness of her daughter and grandchildren. But before her death, she revealed everything to a neighbour.
Most of these abuse-cases happen within houses. I would say this was also largely due to neglect. People take care of their children so well, but neglect to look after their parents. The elderly people are left at the mercy of relatives or caretakers who sexually abuse them. It is important that the government does something to create awareness.MS Sunitha
The team alleges that there are numerous such cases that are yet to be reported, and stresses the need for mothers to be protected both within the family and at old-age homes.
After Muneer broached the topic in the Assembly, the report was handed over to health minister KK Shailaja on her request.
Responding to the issue, Shailaja said that the government is yet to get any complaints regarding the same, but that did not mean that such offences did not occur.
She assured the House that an enquiry will be ordered at the earliest, and will see to it that all the 577 private old-age homes in the state operate according to the rule book.
Speaking on the issue, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed Muneer’s revelations as 'shocking and painful' and a matter of grave concern. He reiterated that a high-level enquiry will be ordered into the allegations, and requisite action will be taken, if needed.