The Jakarta Post
Indonesia has over 23 million people it never talks about: the elderly.
With a system that relies on families to take care of senior citizens, abuses against the elderly, if they occur, happens behind closed doors.
A 2015 report from the United Nations, titled World Population Ageing, projected that the number of 60 year olds and above in Indonesia would reach 39 million in 2030, or 13.2 percent of the population and 61.8 million in 2050 or 19.2 percent.
Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that in 2017 there were 23.4 million people older than 60 in Indonesia or around 8.97 percent of the total population.
To address the issue, in 2004 the government established a special national commission called Komnas Lansia to improve the elderly’s welfare.
A Komnas Lansia administrator, who declined to be named, told The Jakarta Post on Friday that the commission had been inactive since 2015.
Andi Hanindito, the Social Affairs Ministry’s director of social rehabilitation for elderly people, said the number of elderly people was growing and that could result in more of them being abused.
However, he added, such abuse was hard to find in Indonesia.
“We rarely hear about abuse against the elderly in Indonesia, because we embrace a culture where the young generation respects the older generation, and the older generation loves the young generation,” he told the Post on Friday.
It does not mean that such abuse does not happen.
Last December, the West Jakarta Social Agency found Udjan Susanto, 74, sleeping on cardboard in a sewer.
Suffering from acute diabetes, the old man said he had no choice but to live in the sewer because his three children had kicked him out of their houses.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80 percent of cases of elder abuse are not reported.
Elderly mistreatment has become a serious social problem that is hidden from public view, not only in Indonesia but also in many countries in the world.
The UN said it remained one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national action plans
To address the issue, the UN marked June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
On its official site, the UN said the global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to 2 billion in 2050.
The growth will be faster in developing regions.
One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial, which includes the unauthorized, illegal or improper exploitation of funds, property or any other resources.
The UN recorded that one out of six elderly people experienced some form of abuse in the past year, or around 141 million people worldwide.
The government’s effort to give legal protection to the elderly include the issuance of Law No. 23/2004 on the elimination of domestic violence and Law No. 13/1998 on elderly welfare, but it has yet given any details on
The law on the elimination of domestic violence prohibits neglecting a person within the household and the law on elderly welfare states that the family is responsible for the welfare of the elderly.
However, both laws have not included details about the recognition of the rights of the elderly and the protection of their interests and intentions.