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Women in Indian mental hospitals are 'treated worse than animals,' forcibly electrocuted, sedated, with no sanitation


Mental hospitals
(NaturalNews) India is working to transform itself into a regional and global power, but at times its progress is victimized by its history and culture. Women, for example, are not always well respected or treated in the world's largest democracy, as Natural News has been documenting recently with stories of forced sterilizations that are often performed with shoddy medical equipment. Such procedures have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Indian women.

Harsh treatment of women is reportedly occurring in the country's mental institutions as well -- and not all women who are committed to such institutions should even be there in the first place.

As reported by The Australian, one woman, referred to as Deepali, was sent to a mental health facility after her husband was hospitalized with dengue fever and she was left to care for their four children -- all under 10 years old -- while dealing with an anxiety disorder made worse by a troubled marriage.

Instead of getting some help, "the British-educated Delhiite with a Masters in business administration was committed to a private mental institution in the Indian capital by her husband and her parents, isolated, sedated and kept there for 46 days until her family consented to her release," the paper reported in its online edition.

Deepali says her experience was like that of playing a role in a horror movie.

"I saw people in shackles. I had no idea where I was because no one visited me," Deepali told the newspaper. "I didn't know who had put me away, and if I protested or demanded to call my family they would drag me like a sack of potatoes to my bed and sedate me."

"Treated worse than animals"

That experience took place in 2007, the year that India -- a nation of 1.3 billion -- ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But not much has actually changed since then, The Australian reported.

In recent days, Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York City, sought an immediate review of India's outmoded mental health system after the group released a report which revealed scores of cases of women being forcibly committed to mental health institutions. Once there, the HRW report said, many suffered serious abuses such as physical and sexual assault, forced electroshock therapy and conditions which were highly unsanitary.

The paper further reported:

Based on a two-year study of 200 patients in mental institutions across six Indian states, the report also highlights severe overcrowding, including one Delhi government facility accommodating about 900 people _ three times its capacity _ and a Pune hospital with only 25 working toilets for 1850 patients.

"Women and girls with disabilities are dumped in institutions by their family members or police in part because the government is failing to provide appropriate support and services," Human Rights Watch researcher Kriti Sharma said. "Once they're locked up, their lives are often rife with isolation, fear, and abuse, with no hope of escape."

According to German news site Deutsche Welle, the HRW report's title summed up what was taking place with women in many of the institutions examined: "Treated Worse than Animals: Abuses against Women and Girls with Psychosocial or Intellectual Disabilities in Institutions in India."

Overcrowding, forced treatments, lack of medical care

Sharma further stated that many of the women interviewed came from poor families whose relatives had simply dropped them off in the institutions, then gave officials phony addresses and phone numbers so they could not be contacted further. Other women were victims of husbands who merely wanted a quick end to their marriages.

Under current Indian law, mental health patients can be incarcerated for as long as 90 days without a judicial review; however, as Sharma told The Australian, even if some women can manage to access legal assistance, their testimony is most always discredited.

"What struck me most, visiting institution after institution, was how many women came up to me and said 'get me out of here.' We would walk down the corridors and hear that over and over," said Sharma.

In a separate report on the same issue, Al Jazeera reported that the institutionalized women, especially if they were disabled, suffered overcrowding, a lack of hygiene, forced treatments and a general lack of proper medical care.

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com

http://www.theaustralian.com.au

http://www.dw.de

http://mentalillnesspolicy.org

http://articles.philly.com
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