Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 14th 2014 Contents SHALIZA HASSANALI
Physical, verbal and sexual abuse
of the elderly are on the rise.
For director of the Division of Age-
ing Dr Jennifer Rouse, the statistics
are worrying, and she pleaded with
citizens to help protect, look out and
care for the country s most vulner-
able group, which is rapidly growing
Yesterday, as the Ministry of the
People and Social Development held
a World Elder Abuse Awareness Expo
at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya,
which continues today, Rouse said
abuse of the elderly was climbing.
The expo seeks to raise awareness
of the mistreatment and neglect of
older people and the interventions
that could change attitudes and
behaviours in society.
Rouse showed statistics collected
from the Crime and Problem Analy-
sis Branch of the T&T Police Service,
which revealed abuse among people
over the age of 60 was on the rise.
She produced data which showed
there were 243 cases of assault by
beating in 2013 when compared to
192 reports in 2012.
This figure represented a 27 per
cent increase, Rouse said.
Forty-one reports of verbal
abuse/obscene language were made
in 2012, whereas 44 were recorded
in 2013---a seven per cent increase.
In 2013 there were six cases of
sexual offences as opposed to five
the year before, which showed a 20
per cent hike.
From 2010 to 2013, Rouse said,
there were 89 murders of citizens
60 years and over.
In 2010, 24 murders were record-
ed. The following year, the figure
dropped to 18. There was a spike in
2013 with 30 murders, whereas last
year recorded its lowest with 17.
"To say the ministry has an accu-
rate figure, we don t, because a lot
of cases are underreported. But what
we are seeing from the other agencies
like the police...the figures are
increasing. It s a growing phenom-
enon we have to wrestle and grapple
The ministry also compiles sta-
tistics on abuse through its Older
Persons Information Centre at 800-
"The calls have been coming in."
On Wednesday, Rouse said there
were eight types of abuse---financial,
property, sexual, physical, emotional,
verbal, psychological and self-
Based on reports received at her
office, Rouse said financial topped
the list, followed by property, verbal
and physical abuse.
Rouse said many of the reports
involved nominees swindling unsus-
pecting pensioners of their $3,000
She said property abuse was also
increasing, as the elderly were forced
to sign over their palatial or upscale
properties to family members.
"After this is done, the elderly
person is put into a (senior citizens )
home while the relative takes pos-
session of the home."
She said in most cases, an elderly
person who is abused did not have
the freedom to complain or submit
"Some don t know what to do.
They feel impotent. It s about not
leaving them behind and making
them feel marginalised or ostracised.
We have to keep them in the fold."
Soon, Rouse said, senior citizens
would be taught how to send a text
message using cell phones to some-
one they could trust or the ministry.
Rouse said she heard a voice
recording of a relative telling a senior
citizen to hurry up and die because
she was a nuisance.
"We also know for a fact that
some homes deny them medication.
Even family members are guilty of
The ministry is currently trying
to amend the Homes for Older Per-
sons Act 2009, Rouse said.
"Rather than get the bill pro-
claimed just for a handful of people,
it is better that we do the amend-
ments and insert a new text where
it would not only be for homes for
the aged, but all care facilities, which
is what we are pursuing right now."
In the legislation, Rouse said, there
would be summary and indictable
offences that carry a two-year jail
term and fines of $25,000 and
"That will be the first of its kind.
As it stands, without that legislation
being proclaimed, it means the
homes for the aged will have to fall
under the Hospitals Act which comes
under the Ministry of Health. Once
the legislation kicks in, all homes
will have to be licenced.
There are 157 homes for the aged,
of which 40 per cent are unregis-
tered, Rouse said.
Rouse said while social workers
abroad are given licences to operate
and have the power to remove an
elderly person from harm s way, "we
don t have that yet."-
She said what was needed was a
more "structured and integrated
approach" from all ministries to help
protect the elderly, since there were
a variety of issues that hindered
efforts to assist the elderly.
Are these issues taking too long
to be addressed?
"How long is long? Everything
will happen at an appointed time."
September 14, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Elderly abuse on the rise
Physical, verbal, sexual...
T&T has an ageing
population of 177,587
Of this figure, nine per cent
are over the age of 65.
There are also 250
In 2011, the ageing
population was 156,000.
Dr Jennifer Rouse
People s National Movement
(PNM) chairman Franklin Khan
says there is no conflict of interest
in the multi-million dollar con-
struction contracts granted to
Vidara Enterprises Ltd (Vel). Khan
has been linked to Vel, a construc-
tion company earning several mil-
lion dollars in Housing Develop-
ment Corporation (HDC)
"This same issue was raised in
the last three budgets. I am not
too concerned about that," Khan
said in a telephone interview yes-
Khan s response comes after
Housing Minister Dr Roodal
Moonilal questioned whether there
was a conflict of interest in Khan s
$53 million in contracts from the
HDC between September 2006 to
December 2007. Moonilal referred
to Khan s company during his con-
tribution to the budget debate on
"I don t see any conflict of inter-
est in that," Khan said.
Khan said he did not see that
his company "benefitted" in any
special way because of his affili-
ation with the then PNM govern-
ment, or because he held the port-
folio of minister just months before
the company was registered.
"Vidara is still a contractor for
the HDC," he said.
In a subsequent telephone inter-
view, Moonilal confirmed that
Vidara still received HDC contracts.
"But they do not fit the criteria
for construction projects. They can
do remedial work, put in doors,
that kind of thing, but the com-
pany does not have the requisite
experience to meet the criteria nec-
essary for larger projects," Moonilal
When asked how did they qual-
ify for a $53-million construction
project less than ten years ago,
Moonilal said he was not sure.
"They were already in the system
when we came into office, and I
am not going to discriminate
against any one company. We have
a pool of 150 contractors under the
HDC," he said.
"My issue is not whether the
company still gets contracts or not,
my issue is that as a former sitting
member of Parliament, he was
allowed to walk away with this
contract under (PNM leader Dr
Keith) Rowley s watch," Moonilal
"Do you think if Chandresh and
his wife or Collin Partap started a
company and get multi-million-
dollar contracts I would get away
with that?" he said.
Moonilal said while his brother
did own a transport business, he
deliberately never allowed him to
tender for any contracts that fell
under his ministerial portfolio.
Competitors dig in during Mario's pizza-eating competition at the pizzeria's Marabella branch yesterday. The
finals of the competition is scheduled for next Saturday at Trincity Mall, where the winner will walk away with
a full stomach and $25,000 in cash. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
READY, SET, EAT!
Khan: No conflict of interest in contracts ABOUT VIDARA
Vidara was registered on
August 30, 2005, just three
months after Khan resigned as
minister of Works and
Infrastructure but remained a
member of the then-ruling PNM
government amid allegations
that he accepted a bribe by
contractor and PNM councillor
at the Rio Claro/Mayaro
Regional Corporation, Dansam
The company, according to the
company registry, lists Khan's
wife, Laura Khan, and two
children---Khara and Kheron---as
the company's directors, all with
the same address in Maraval.
Franklin Khan's name does not
appear in the registration
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