Desist from inhuman treatment of mental health patients – CHRAJ officer to religious, c’nity leaders

The Bawku West District Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative of Justice (CHRAJ), Ms Priscilla Alakawan, has warned religious leaders and communities who chain mental health patients or confine   them in rooms, to desist from the practice or risk being punished by the law.

The District Director issued the warning at a community durbar organised at the Gbantongo community in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region on Wednesday, and stressed that the laws frowned upon such negative practices.

She mentioned discrimination, stigmatisation, forced labour, domestic violence, sexual harassment, early and forced marriage, parental neglect, restriction to health care as some of the human rights violations often meted out to mental health patients. 

The durbar organised by BasicNeed- Ghana and sponsored by AmplifyChange, brought together chiefs, Assembly members, Queen mothers, opinion leaders, and religious leaders, representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Ghana Health Service (GHS), Self Help Group members, mental health volunteers and community members

 Ms Priscilla Alakawan outlined some Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) violations in the district as forced marriages, rape and forced sexual abuses, denial of sexual education, denial of ante and post-natal care services, and entreated the community members to report such incident to the commission.

She numerated some SRHR of persons with mental health conditions as right to life, one’s mental health status, right to privacy, right to confidentiality, right to equal and free from discrimination, right to access to SRHR care services, right to who and when to marry, right to decide when to have children, right to health care and protection, right to access SRHR information and services without any discrimination, added that SRHR are human rights for all irrespective of one’s   mental status. 

The District Mental Health Coordinator of Bawku West, Collins Nana Owoo, encouraged community members to support their sick relatives to access SRH services at the nearest health facilities in their communities.

 He said the GHS was committed to providing SRH information and services to persons suffering from mental health conditions and their care givers and entreated relatives of these persons to make them available for these services during SRH education, provision of ante-natal and post-natal services. 

He warned community members against sexual abuse and harassment of persons suffering from mental health conditions and appealed to the chiefs, Assembly members and opinion leaders to sanction persons who wilfully abuse them in their communities.

The pastor of the Church of God in the district, Joseph Alalba, commended BasicNeeds-Ghana for the intervention and assured that he would extend the issues that were discussed at the durbar to his colleague pastors to advocate for access to SRHR information and services for persons with mental health conditions.

The Assistant Director at the Bawku West District, Mr AbassImoro, thanked BasicNeeds-Ghana for the numerous interventions in the district and encouraged community members not to discriminate against persons suffering from mental health conditions, but to support them to enjoy fully their SRHR and other needs in their communities.

The Assemblyman of the area, Mr Awini Cletus Assibila, entreated community members not to hide their mentally ill relatives, but rather encourage them to join the SHGs that are in their communities. 


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