Govt. to table draft bill to offer further protections for elderly before year’s end
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell called yesterday on the public to end elder abuse in The Bahamas, urging victims and those who are aware of elder abuse taking place to “speak up”.
His comments came during an elder abuse symposium.
Noting that elder abuse will only stop, “if we who know, speak up”, Campbell said, “They’re only going to stop if we empower our senior citizens and arm them with the requisite information as to who to tell, where to call, how to make someone aware.
“They’re only going to stop when we go to Parliament and pass legislation to ensure that there is a law and there is repercussion for those who offend. They’re only going to stop when perpetrators see that as a country, we are serious.”
Addressing attendees, the minister underscored the importance of protecting the elderly, noting that legislation is being drafted to further protection this segment of society.
He also expressed disappointment with individuals who mistreat the older people.
“Some older person has a child who is living at home, who gives mummy $50 on Friday, but by Tuesday comes back to say where is my $50,” Campbell said. “Some older person somewhere is being locked in the house from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. while somebody goes to work. Those are all wrong.”
The minister noted that oftentimes, people do not address elder abuse.
He said sometimes the elderly are too afraid to speak out.
“There are many subjects in Bahamian culture that are considered taboo,” the minister noted.
“Elder abuse is not so much considered taboo, but it is more considered one of those things you don’t talk about because of the embarrassment. Sometimes even the victims don’t talk about it because it means they will be exposing some member of their family or a close trusted friend.”
Expounding on this issue, assistant director for the Senior Citizens Division, Lorraine Duvalier said, “Elderly persons themselves are not going to report. They are not going to report because they fear reprisals. The persons who are taking care of them, they are afraid that if they say anything, the persons are going to abuse them.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development Michael Foulkes said that he was given the task of dealing with three bills to protect vulnerable people in the society, one group of which is the elderly.
Foulkes said in drafting the legislation he has closely met with the National Council on Older Persons and the body has been working through what is now a third draft of a bill to protect the elderly.
He foreshadowed a draft bill being tabled in Parliament before the end of this year.
This article was written by Eyewitness News Intern Scharlee Thompson