The mentally ill in Ghana chained up at ‘prayer camps’
Posted by Mr DoctorE on October 3, 2012
And Gawd does nothing, like he doesn’t exist.. eh
ACCRA, GHANA — Mentally ill patients suffer from severe abuse at psychiatric hospitals and so-called healing centres in Ghana, with many chained to trees and even denied water, a human rights group said Tuesday.
Some 1,000 residents live in squalid, overcrowded quarters in Ghana’s three psychiatric hospitals, according to Human Rights Watch. Patients face physical and verbal abuse, and some are given electroshock therapy without their consent, said the group’s report.
The abuse is even worse in healing centres known as “prayer camps,” which lack government oversight, it said.
Thousands of mentally disabled people in the West African nation are sent to the camps, usually by their family members to be “cured” by self-proclaimed prophets through miracles, prayer and fasting. In most prayer camps, residents are only allowed to leave when the prophet deems them healed.
At the Mount Horeb Prayer Camp earlier this year, about 120 of the 135 residents there were chained either to trees or to the walls inside cell-like rooms 24 hours a day, sometimes for months at a time, Human Rights Watch said. Most of the chains measured only two metres long.
“People had to bathe, defecate, urinate, change sanitary towels, eat, and sleep on the spot where they were chained,” the group reported.
Medi Ssengooba, Finberg fellow at Human Rights Watch and one of the report’s authors, urged Ghana’s government to end abuses against people with mental disabilities.
“The conditions in which many people with mental disabilities live in Ghana are inhuman and degrading,” Ssengooba said.
Ssengooba said researchers were disappointed to find the level of human rights abuse against the mentally ill in Ghana, which is one of the most progressive countries in Africa in terms of good governance and leadership.
Ghana’s 2012 Mental Health Act went into effect in June and allows people with disabilities to challenge their detention in psychiatric hospitals. But the law does not apply to the prayer camps operating outside of government control. Many families send their mentally ill family members to prayer camps because there are very few mental health providers in Ghana and almost all of them are concentrated near Accra, the capital