AMMAN — “In the Jordanian society, the family is the incubator of all of its members throughout their complete life cycle,” Minister of Social Development Hala Lattouf said on Tuesday, adding “this principle requires placing the protection of the elderly at the priority of the ministry’s work in the implementation of the National Strategy for Senior Citizens”.
The remarks came during a panel discussion organised by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) and the NGO HelpAge International on the occasion of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which falls on June 15 of every year.
Designated by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 66/127, the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day “represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations”, according to a statement by the UN.
Held under the patronage of the Ministry of Social Development and the National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), the discussion was aimed at shedding light on the issue of elder abuse and the legislation in place to protect the elder from violence and neglect, as well as the judicial and administrative measures taken to address the matter.
During the discussion, NCFA Acting Secretary General Mohammad Miqdadi said that “the interdependence between generations at the level of the family and the community is a fundamental principle for the achievement of a society suitable for all ages”.
“The customs and traditions prevailing in the Jordanian society are an important ethical motive for the respect to the elderly,” Miqdadi said.
“This is an opportunity for all institutions to work together in order to protect a group dear to our hearts — the elderly,” he continued, noting that the council’s work is “aimed at institutionalising the protection of the elder people through updates on the National Strategy for Senior Citizens and analytical reports of this strategy”.
During the panel discussion, several participants noted the absence of policies focused on the protection of the elderly from issues such as neglect, violence or ill-treatment, as well as the lack of special measures aimed at detecting such practices.
Participants also called for extended efforts in raising awareness on the state of the elderly through sessions in schools, universities, media and religious entities, in addition to training the elderly on their rights and mechanisms to report violence against them.
“Today, we are focusing on a very important topic, which is the violence and abuse against the elderly,” said Barbara Shenstone, regional director of HelpAge International in Eurasia and the Middle East, warning that “unfortunately, this is a hidden tragedy that remains unrecognised in many countries across the world, as people tend to think that violence and abuse in the household and families only happens against youth”.
“But Jordan is a country known for its desire to promote human rights, which is why HelpAge is delighted to take part in this discussion today,” Shenstone continued, adding that the NGO’s mission is “to shed light on the situation of the elderly and encourage services that contribute to their wellbeing, and we always prefer to do that with allies and partners like yourselves [NCFA, Ministry of Social Development, NCHR and other stakeholders]”.
In addition, the activist highlighted that HelpAge is currently working hand in hand with the Social Development Ministry in order to implement the National Strategy for Senior Citizens, as well as supporting and encouraging other organisations to support the elderly population through a learning and resources centre.