Patna, India, Oct 15 (efe-epa).- A malnourished woman was rescued from a stinky toilet in a north Indian village where she had been confined for years and subjected to inhumane treatment by her family, claiming she was mentally unstable, officials said on Thursday.
Officers of the Women and Child Development Department state conducted the rescue operation with the help of police on Oct. 13 in Rishpur village in Panipat district of Haryana state, District Protection Officer Rajni Gupta, who led the operation, told EFE.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar told EFE that they were “intimated of the case and the officer in-charge went and arrested the husband, who claimed the woman was mentally challenged.”
Kumar said the police had filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the husband, 43, while the woman underwent a medical examination and was now staying with her relatives.
The woman’s mental and physical health condition would be known once her medical report was out, although “she seems fine to us,” the officer said.
According to a copy of the FIR, accessed by EFE, the husband, “Naresh, (…) in collusion with his children, had locked up his wife Ramrati inside a toilet for several years.”
On opening the door of the toilet on the first floor of the house, Ramrati, in her late 30s, was found in a “pitiable condition with excreta on her body and clothes.”
Videos of the rescue operation provided by the authorities showed the malnourished woman in a disheveled state being extracted from the toilet. She was later fed and bathed in the presence of police officers.
“In light of this situation, I urge the police to undertake the strictest of action against Naresh and his family,” said Gupta in the FIR.
This case brings to light the precarious situation concerning mental health in developing nations such as India as well as around the world, where suspected patients are often subjected to shackling.
“Many are held in overcrowded, filthy rooms, sheds, cages, or animal shelters and are forced to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in the same tiny area. This inhumane practice-called ‘shackling’-exists due to inadequate support and mental health services as well as widespread beliefs that stigmatize people with psychosocial disabilities,” Human Rights Watch said in its recent report.
Globally, an estimated 792 million people or 1 in 10, have a mental health condition, and 80 percent of them live in middle or low-income countries where it is often challenging to access healthcare, particularly mental health care, according to HRW. EFE-EPA