Somalilandsun:.Hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems are chained around the world, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Men, women and children, some as young as 10, are chained or confined to confined spaces for weeks, months and even years, in some 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.
They fast, take drugs, suffer violence. ” Living in Chains: Chaining People with Psychosocial Disabilities around the World”examines how people with mental health conditions are often chained by families in their homes or in overcrowded and unsanitary institutions, against their stigma and lack of mental health services. Many are forced to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in the same small area. In state or private institutions, as well as traditional or religious healing centers, they are often forced to fast, take medications or herbal mixtures, and face physical and sexual violence. The report includes field research and testimonies from Afghanistan , Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Palestine, the self-declared independent state of Somaliland, South Sudan and Yemen.
“It isa secret of Pulcinella “.”Chaining people with mental health problems is a widespread brutal practice that is an open secret in many communities,” said Kriti Sharma, senior researcher on disabled rights at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “People can spend years chained to a tree, locked up in a cage or sheep shed because families struggle to make it and governments fail to provide adequate mental health services.”
The “Break The Chains” Campaign.While a number of countries are paying more attention to the issue of mental health, the chaining remains largely hidden. There are no coordinated international or regional data or efforts to eradicate the shackles. In response, Human Rights Watch worked with experienced mental health advocates and human rights and anti-torture organizations around the world to launch a global #BreakTheChains campaignand thus put an end to the chaining of people with mental health conditions. Human Rights Watch interviewed over 350 people with psychosocial disabilities, including children, and 430 family members, staff working in institutions, mental health professionals, faith healers, government officials and advocates for disabled rights. Based on a study of 110 countries, Human Rights Watch found evidence of chaining people with mental health conditions across age groups, ethnicities, religions, socioeconomic strata, and urban and rural areas in approximately 60 countries.
792 million people in the world with mental illness.Globally, it is estimated that 792 million people, or 1 in 10, including 1 in 5 children, have a mental health condition. Yet governments spend less than two percent of their health budgets on mental health. More than two-thirds of countries do not reimburse people for mental health services in national health insurance systems. Even when mental health services are free or subsidized, distance and transportation costs are a significant obstacle. In the absence of adequate mental health support and lack of awareness, many families feel they have no choice but to chain their relatives. They are often worried that the person might escape or hurt themselves or others.
The nightmare of the “evil spirits”.Chaining is typically practiced by families who believe that the mental health conditions are the result of evil spirits or sin. People often consult traditional faith or healers first and seek mental health services only as a last resort. Mura, a 56-year-old man in Bali, Indonesia, was taken by 103 faith healers and when that didn’t work, locked up in a room for several years. In many countries, families take relatives, including children as young as 10, to traditional or faith-healing centers, where they are chained for restraint or punishment. Chained people live in extremely degrading conditions. They are also routinely forced to take drugs or undergo alternative “treatments” such as “magical” herbal blendsfasting, vigorous massages by traditional healers, Koranic recitation in the person’s ear, evangelical hymns and special baths.
Chaining affects mental and physical health. A chained person can suffer from post-traumatic stress, malnutrition, infections, nerve damage, muscle wasting, and cardiovascular problems. Chaining also forces people to live in very restrictive conditions which reduce their ability to stand or move. Some people are even chained to another person, forcing them to go to the bathroom and sleep together.