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24 Nov

Odimegwu Onwumere (Nigeria)
Modern Ghana, 15.11.2015

Appalling culture of maltreatment against elders in Belarus

A 62yr old homeless Paviel Labkovich was tipped by Andrej Dalarchuk, 21, who was a student in the city of Brest, Belarus.

Dalarchuk was caught in his own act by camera. A manhunt on social media was mounted on him to identify who he was.

He was later identified and expelled from the Technical University, where he was a student.

A remuneration of £1,600 was slammed on Dalarchuk, to be given to the homeless elderly man, who was searching for food, before he was grabbed by the legs and tipped into the bin.

The leader of “Discussion Club 24” Uladzimir Ramanovich narrated how the mother said that she had not seen her relatives in Vilnius for a long time. That was in 2010.

“And there’s a whole load of such people,” said Ramanovich. Hence, the launch of the ‘club’ to contribute to making the elderly internet savvy to enable them connect with family members from their care homes.

These are among the many abuses that are familiar with the elderly people in Belarus on daily basis. The alien culture of relegating the elderly people to the background that has characterised the country, has however spurred campaigns amongst diplomats and NGOs to protect the elderly from maltreatment and abuse.

Disdained and ridiculed
Elderly people are not having a good time in Belarus. The inherent culture now is either they are confined to caregivers’ homes or they are abandoned in the streets to be disdained and ridiculed.

The elderly are seeing hell in this country that was on 26th April 1986, ravaged by over 70% radiation from the Chernobyl disaster.

And investigations revealed that Belarus will suffer the contamination for at least 200 years.

Many of the elderly people sustain injuries both physically and emotionally due to maltreatment in this country that officially unrecognised rates of unemployment and underemployment are skyrocketing.

Although, there is no government statistics for the number of the elderly people that have been abused, but family outcry shows that the number is increasing.

It’s alarming when in 2014, about 23, 000 persons received fines or warning for their misdeeds against the elderly, who were their relatives.

Why the elderly people are maltreated does not meet the eyes, because they are the folk that had scientific orientation, unlike the young ones that do not have interest in science.

“Science is no longer prestigious; that is the reason why young people don’t want to be scientists. Scientists have low salaries, and feminization is taking place because of that – as women are often more satisfied with low salaries than men. One of the main problems is critical shortage of modern equipment, without which development is impossible. Cooperation between science and industry is poor in Belarus; and due to that science doesn’t contribute much into industry.” (Said information contained in EuroBelarus).

Government labours the elderly
Conversely, there are schools of thought that said that the elderly people are maltreated because they are less productive than the youth; while others said that they are experienced even though that their physical powers may be waning.

Tatyana Ivanova is a Belarusian journalist residing in the United States. In May this year, while making a public presentation, decried that longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko was going back to trenches to exhume "the Soviet-dominated past, most recently by introducing a forced-labor law."
"This April, Lukashenko signed Decree No. 3, whose official name literally translates to “on the prevention of social parasitism.” This term applied in the former Soviet Union to the conduct of able-bodied citizens who refused to work where they were assigned," said Ivanova.

It’s evident that this idea is intended for the vulnerable in the country because the "labour-decree" will create a labour-barrier-free environment. The Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection Alexander Rumak said during this year’s International Day of Older Persons that "a concept of a state programme on social protection and employment promotion in 2016 – 2020 has been developed in Belarus."

Although, there are exemptions in the "Labour Decree", Ivanova argued: "In accordance with the decree, every person residing in Belarus for half a year and one day has to pay a tax equivalent to $250 if he or she doesn’t work in an officially recognized capacity for those 183 days. When the president issues a decree in Belarus, it has the force of law."

But President Lukashenko on December 29 2014 made a pronouncement when he visited home for the elderly, and said that the state must take care of the elderly. Nevertheless, critics of the president have characterised his comment by political colouration.

Factors contributing to abuse of the elderly

“Elderly people are more vulnerable. The factors contributing to elder abuse include sharing a home, financial dependence, mental diseases, and alcohol abuse. Women are at a great risk of elder abuse for a number of reasons (for example, they outnumber men and live longer). Disability, dementia and social isolation aggravate the dependence of the elderly on others.” (Yelena Kasko, UNFPA Assistant Representative in Belarus told Belarusian Telegraph Agency).

There was a presentation by Europe in Minsk on November 4 2014 to tackle the issue among the member states.

“Minsk is home to 460,000 elderly people, 4,500 of which are aged over 90. 53 people have marked their 100th anniversary,” said the source.

Yelena Kasko bickered that the issue of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse of people aged 60 years and older is pretty grave, relevant and large-scale.

“Elder maltreatment is pervasive in all countries in the WHO European Region, and estimates suggest that at least 4 million people in the region experience elder maltreatment in any one year. Most countries in the region (including Belarus) have an ageing population, putting more people at risk of elder maltreatment,” Kasko added.

Proposal to protect the elderly
Not sleeping on their oars in making sure that the elderly people are protected, Yelena Kasko said in 2014, while fielding questions to journalists, that the country needed to strategise to checkmate the incessant abuse being meted out on the elderly people.

Yelena Kasko showed great concern about this and intoned that the country needed to collaborate with the international community to arrest this ugly trend.

This is given that Belarus is a country where nearly 14 percent of the population is elderly people of 65 years and older.

Kasko outlined that the strategy would help to know the number of people who are affected by abuse.

Checks have it that over 2million elderly people receive their retirement pensions and nearly 3million others are pensioners chronicled with the labour; something the ‘labour decree’ will hype.

Originally published: http://www.modernghana.com/news/656143/1/appalling-culture-of-maltreatment-against-elders-i.html