Home » Health » Mentally-Challenged People Prone to Abuse

Mentally-challenged people continue to be abused and their rights trampled upon in communities in which they live because there are no resources to properly cater for their welfare, a local organisation has said.

Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (Zimnamh) said most mentally challenged people have no access to proper food, medication and shelter, making them prone to abuse by some peverted members of the community.

The association’s executive director, Ignatius Murambidzi said a shortage of resources and closure of some mental health institutions made it difficult for the mentally ill to access medication.

“The abuse of people with mental disability is increasing judging from the reports we get. at least eight to 10 cases of unfair treatment are reported every month,” said Murambidzi. “More people are now in the streets and it makes them more vulnerable to abuse.”

He said institutions that used to cater for the mentally-challenged such as the units that were in Marondera and Mutare were closed down five years ago.

There is only one functional ward at Parirenyatwa Hospital, while the one at Harare hospital is still under construction.

“With these institutions closed, it’s exposing our patients to abuse as more and more will be roaming the streets,” said Murambidzi. “The drugs are also in short supply. Mental health medication is a lifeline drug and once it’s not there, one ceases to function.”

He added that the organisation was struggling with the limited resources to assist victims of abuse.

“Though we do not have many resources, we are still striving to support victims who come to our offices,” he said.

Harare police provincial spokesperson, Inspector Tedious Chibanda said there was need to monitor people who are mentally challenged.

“Relatives should monitor people with mental disabilities, especially women as they are more vulnerable to sexual abuse, and the community has to take time to understand what they say and need,” said Chibanda.

The media has recently been awash with reports of abuse of the mentally challenged. In one case, a 15-year-old mentally challenged girl was allegedly raped several times by her father’s friend.

It was the State’s case that Clemence Galau (33) of St Mary’s in Chitungwiza allegedly raped a special class student who suffered from brain damage.

The court heard that after raping her several times, he told her not to tell anyone and gave her a US$1. He promised to marry her.

The Southern African Development Protocol on Gender and Development calls for the enactment of legislative provisions and the adoption and implementation of policies that prohibit sexual harassment and provide deterrent sanctions for perpetrators.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard

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