Women and girls with mental disabilities in India are routinely locked away in mental hospitals and institutions where they face abuse, overcrowding, filthy conditions and medical treatment against their will, the human rights watchdog said on Wednesday.
“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,” HRW researcher Kriti Sharma said in a statement. “And once they’re locked up, their lives are often rife with isolation, fear, and abuse, with no hope of escape.”
At least 70 million Indians live with psychosocial disabilities like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and more than 1.5 million have intellectual disabilities such as Down ’s syndrome. Yet only 0.06% of the country’s health budget is spent on mental health, HRW said in a report titled “Treated worse than animals”.
It said there are only 43 state-run mental hospitals and three psychiatrists and 0.47 psychologists per million people in India, a country of around 1.2 billion people. The lack of mental health services is acute in rural areas where seven out of 10 Indians live but where only 25% of the health infrastructure is located, it said.
The report was based on research in six cities—New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Mysore—and more than 200 interviews with disabled women and girls, their families, mental health professionals, government officials and police. HRW said physical and verbal abuse was an everyday occurrence in every state-run institution or mental hospital its researchers visited.
It also uncovered instances of sexual assault and exploitation, which it said were rarely reported by victims for fear of the repercussions.
Source: Live Mint
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