Categorized | National News

Bill to Protect Senior Citizens’ Rights

Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell and Parliamentary Secretary Michael Foulkes announced on Thursday that they are on their third draft of a bill to protect senior citizens’ rights.

In his remarks at the Department of Social Services’ Elder Abuse Awareness Symposium, Minister Campbell admitted that he witnessed first-hand dealing with elder abuse while working as a police officer. He’s working with Foulkes to address the lack of legislation for elder abuse.

“The things we want to do is make it wrong to deny an elderly person, for example, for a pension they’ve already earned and so if a child or loved one collect and uses the fund,” Campbell said.

“My hope is that hopefully, by the end of this year we’ll have something by the end of this calendar year or fiscal year.”

Foulkes revealed that the team has been working weekly on the draft.

“We hope, as the minster says, before the year is out to have a draft of a bill that can move forward though the process and eventually come to the house,” Foulkes added.

“They are least able to protect themselves in society and so they need the protection of the law and that’s what we’re doing and its critical work.” 

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported around one in six people 60 years and older worldwide have experienced some form of abuse in community settings.

Although the data shows the rates of elder abuse in the Bahamas is lower compared to other countries, Assistant Director of the Department of Social Services Lorraine Duvalier fears that more cases are going unreported. 

“Particularly, with elder abuse, they’re not going to report. The children are not going to report it because they are the prep in some cases – not all cases,” Duvalier explained.

“If they don’t have relatives to take care of them, they’re the ones doing the abusing and so they’re not going to say anything and then if I’m depended on you to take care of me, to do my banking, to bring food, and all of that, I’m not going to say anything because as far as they’re concerned, the abuser is concerned, you’re biting the hands that’s feeding you.”

The department held the symposium at Grace Community Church to bring more awareness, prevention and arm senior citizens with tools to recognize the signs of abuse.

Presentations were held to educate on not only physical, sexual and psychological abuse, but elder neglect and financial abuse.

The symposium was supposed to be on June 15 – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. However, unforeseen circumstances pushed the event to a later date. Campbell wanted it to still be on the agenda to have matters pertaining to elders on the forefront.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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