VIOLENT, sexual, psychological and emotional exploitation against senior citizens were highlighted at the Lovu Housing Assistance Relief Trust (HART) Village in Lautoka when World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day was commemorated there on Friday.
Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) executive director Hassan Khan said it was unfortunate that such an event had to be held and abuse against the elderly was a reality with many incidences often unreported.
"Two generations ago such a day was not heard of as our parents and grandparents were bound by culture, religion and family traditions to live in harmony," he said.
"However, as things change with time and development, the priorities of our family system have become different.
"Elderly abuse is a serious problem across the globe, but it is still under acknowledged, under the rug and largely under-reported. Cases that do come to light are often dismissed as a domestic issue - in a way that domestic violence and child abuse once were - rather than being related to wider issues of discrimination requiring action at all levels."
Mr Khan said FCOSS has set up a Help Age Centre to promote respect for senior citizens in Fiji and across the Pacific.
This followed a request by Help Age International made at the Asia Pacific Regional Conference that was held in Myanmar last month.
"People over 60 are a very important and increasing segment of the population," Mr Khan said.
"To implement respect for seniors, there is an urgent need to create service space for them. The giving of respect and dignity to seniors should start from home by family members and spread out to neighbourhoods, districts, the wider community and to the nation."
Mr Khan said FCOSS had been advocating against the abuse of the elderly through Age Demands Action.