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Elder Rights in Africa

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A World Tour of Older Persons Homes
Come on this World Tour to a little known place in the world to discover how older persons are living.

Reports & Articles



South Africa: Brutal Abuse of Elderly On the Rise (August 8, 2012)
In a recent presentation held at the South African Parliament, elder rights activists revealed startling abuses faced by older persons living in South Africa. The police are not doing enough to protect the elderly -- many officers are not familiar with the stipulations of the Older Persons Act of 2006. Furthermore, money lenders charge elders exorbitant and illegal interest rates -- ranging from 30 to 50 percent. Additionally, many older people who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's are tormented and abused because they are seen as witches who exhibit "strange behavior."  

Zimbabwe: The Elderly Have Spoken (July 5, 2012)
On June 15 and 16 in Zvishavane and Hwedza, the Parliament of Zimbabwe conducted public hearings on the Older Persons Bill.  Concerns were expressed about the needs for universal pensions, health assistance, food provision, and orphan care support.  60% of Zimbabwean orphans and other vulnerable children are cared for by seniors. Some older adults discussed how they had sold livestock to care for the children.  The Minister of Labour and Social Services anticipates that the bill will be presented to Parliament for a second reading before the House of Assembly begins its debate.

Zimbabwe: Caring for the Elderly (April 2, 2012)
The family can no longer be counted upon for elder care family, and social structures have fallen apart due to reasons such as HIV and AIDS and emigration. Grants are made from the Department of Social Services but these are meager, especially since the same pool is used to sponsor other groups such as the disabled. Zimbabwe’s government has proposed an Old People’s Bill that seeks to improve grants. The measure is due to be debated this year. However, the issue seems to be overshadowed by other priorities.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe: Right to Secure a Living in Old Age (March 26, 2012)
Traditionally, the whole community cares for the elderly. However, in modern times, older persons are no longer able to age with dignity. For example, HIV affects older persons in two ways: first, they are being left out of HIV-related programs, and second, they become caregivers to grandchildren when parents succumb to the disease. The writer suggests that if the elderly have to be caregivers without much social support, they should be employed so that they earn an income and be kept healthy psychologically.

Malawi: Point of View: When Ageing is a “Crime” in Malawi (March 19, 2012)
Even though there is a Ministry responsible for Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly, there is no comprehensive social protection for the elderly in Malawi. Access to healthcare is crucial since the elderly tend to turn to traditional remedies instead of modern science. Also, the government’s HIV/AIDS program assumes that those above 49 are not sexually active which means older persons are often excluded from HIV/AIDS information and prevention.

Madagascar: Federation of Senior Citizens: Open Letter to the Leaders of Madagascar (January 18, 2012)
(Article in French)
Federation of Senior Citizens in Madagascar FIZOMA, wrote an open letter to the authorities denouncing the marginalization of old people and reaffirming their desire to help political leaders and make use of their foresight and experience. Seniors account for more than 9% of the population of the island; their leader, Moks Razafindramiandra, deplores and has called attention to the deterioration of elders’ living conditions of older people and their low status in society.

Gabon: Older People Excluded and Abandoned (January 9, 2012)
(Article in French)
The rights of older people and the conditions under which they live are still sensitive issues in Gabon. Many elderly are in situations of extreme poverty. In this interview, Patricia Annette Pradeau Foumangoye, head of Melen Hospital’s Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics, lists the measures taken within her service to deal with two main causes of their condition, namely, lack of financial resources and family conflicts. She also reviews allowances paid by the Gabonese government, and calls for solidarity, an essential value in the Bantu culture.

Rwanda: Will Retirement Homes Encourage Abandonment of Old People? (January 9, 2012)
The evolution to an urban society is often equated with a decline in the status of the family, specifically older people. Those who have no care-giving support or have been abandoned find themselves in a retirement home based in the Kagarama sector, Kicukiro district. The concept of the elderly living in homes is new in the country and brings up a troubling thought: will this encourage abandonment of old people?

Tanzania: Violence against older women: tackling witchcraft accusations in Tanzania (August 2011)
In many parts of the world, superstition leads to accusations of witchcraft against older women, sometimes resulting in murder and other forms of violence.  Due to limited understanding of HIV and other infections, neighbors may blame older women for the deaths of family members, particularly those of husbands.  Inadequacies exist in the current legislation to protect older women against such accusations.

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