A social evil seldom highlighted is the plight of women abandoned by family members in mental asylums. These are not cases of mere neglect however. A very heartless motive is at work — which is to deprive such women of property rights. The media in Assam too has reported cases where perfectly normal women were forced into mental asylums after the death of their husbands, leaving the coast clear for scheming relatives to grab their property. There is the suspicion that asylum authorities too become party to such conspiracies in some cases, obviously in return for a ‘consideration’. There are further complaints that once lodged inside asylums, such women are coerced into taking medication for mental disorders. The victims are thus locked into a nether world, a living death terrible to contemplate. The Central government has now taken a laudable initiative by commissioning a survey to determine the condition of such unfortute women. The Women and Child Development ministry has asked the tiol Commission for Women (NCW) to carry out this survey, which will be the first of its kind in India. This is a particularly disturbing aspect of the problem of mental illness in our country, with the Indian government spending a mere 0.06 per cent of its health budget on mental care. There is only one psychiatrist for every 3,43,000 people in our country. And on top of this, some ruthlessly greedy, evil people turn perfectly normal women into mentally ill people! It is high time to institute a foolproof procedure which can establish the genuineness of mental illness beyond doubt. The physical well-being, hygiene and emotiol care of women in mental asylums need to be monitored on a regular and transparent basis.
Hope for women 'inmates'