10th February, 2014
Elder Physical and Financial Abuse On the Rise – New Immigrants’ Brutal Way to Force In-Laws Out
The Against Elderly Abuse of Hong Kong recorded a total of 2,800 cases of elders seeking help, and the majority of the abuse cases are financial abuse. The Orgnisation said that there were 258 cases successfully granted an additional public housing unit given the reason of old-husband-young-wife and conflict between wife and mother-in-law. Many of these cases involved Chinese new immigrants focusing the elders to leave the public housing units they have been living. The Organisation urges the government to enact laws to protect elders abuse.
The Against Elderly Abuse of Hong Kong (AEAHK) also explained that as the population ages, the number of help seekers increase every year. AEAHK received 2,872 help seeking cases last years from the elders, and over 60% of these cases were related to financial abuse, and the largest amount involved was over US$1 million. Lam Man-chiu of AEAHK said that this case involved the only child of the family cheated his/her mother who is illiterate to sign a document agreeing to sell her flat in Hong Kong Island leaving the old woman with no regular income to live off.
AEAHK also saw 258 cases of “household splitting” and “compassionate rehousing”. Lam said that many of these cases involve old husbands and young wives or directly related to conflicts between wives and mother-in-laws – and new immigrants from China are often involved in these cases, and they would use all means possible to force the elders to leave their public housing, “for example, the wife cooks chewy meat every day for the elder who has no teeth. Another case was refusing to get a comfortable bed for the elder which damages the elder’s bone structure, and then use that as an excuse to send the elder to elderly home.” In many cases, (the children or in-laws) always call the elders “useless” or even forbid them from seeing the grandchildren. Some elders were told not to stay at home during the day.
A 92 year-old woman was ordered by her daughter-in-law not to be home between 6am and 11pm. The case was found out by the neighbours as the old lady was sitting outside a restaurant late at night. The Housing Authority and Social Welfare Department classified the case as “family dispute” and tried to persuade the old lady to apply for a new public housing unit and said to her that “you only need to wait for three years!” At the Panel on Welfare Services in Legislative Council last February, the old lady told the panel the appalling situation she has been facing. In three days time, the case immediately became “domestic abuse” and the old lady was granted a compassionate rehousing.
Lam also said that many of these cases are very similar, after moving to Hong Kong from China for around three months, the young wives filed for divorce and use the excuse of “being abandoned by their husbands” to apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme (social benefit). Some serious cases would even have sex with other men in front of their elder husbands to humiliate and mentally abuse their spouse in order to force for a divorce.
There are existing laws and regulations to protect child and spouse abuse victims. However, elders are not being looked after on this front. Although a number of Legislative Council members have raise relevant discussions, the Hong Kong SAR Government has yet react. Lam urges the government to enact relevant laws as soon as possible because the aging population and continuous assimilation and conflicts between Hong Kong and China will only intensify the elder abuse problems.