The elderly in Kenya and indeed Africa are among the most vulnerable. Despite the fact that the elderly are traditionally most revered, they, especially those living in rural areas, also happen to be neglected and even abused. As they advance in age, their energy depreciates and they find themselves becoming more vulnerable and dependent on their immediate kin, other relatives, guardians, well-wishers and even the community around them. However, anecdotal reports mainly in the media, have shown that the elderly, especially women suffer in the hands of people who should be their protectors. Cases are rife where elderly women are subjected to all forms of violence including sexual emotional and even physical by those close to them such as family who include grandchildren, sons, guardians and their own workers. They are those subjected to SGBV and other forms of physical violence by their attackers in some circumstances with the intention of snatching their resources such as land money and other properties. Others are killed.
The mistreatment and abuse strip these vulnerable women-mothers and grandmothers- of dignity and the right to enjoy their rights and freedoms, like other citizens. Besides, majority of the abused women, family and the community around them, generally remain silent. The silence on this abuse and neglect is quite loud.
The government of Kenya has established a cash transfer kitty to help the elderly meet basic needs. But this has also turned into a nightmare for some, especially the elderly mothers and grandmothers, whose kin forcefully take the little money away from them.
Violence against elderly women especially in rural areas –mainly those in the category aged 60 and above-is often overlooked and ignored.
In addition, little has been done to decisively deal with their human rights challenges and accord these senior members of the society a dignified life. This partly explains the absence of comprehensive data on the abuse and neglect of the elderly in Kenya.
It is out of this situation that The Woman’s Newsroom Foundation is working with other stakeholders including communities, the Media and the justice system, to progressively and decisively address issues of sexual abuse, physical and emotional violence as well as all other forms of abuse against elderly women, in specific counties.