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Report: Indian Mental Institutions Treat Women Worse Than Animals

FILE - Mentally challenged Shomvu Sharkar, 8, is chained inside his hut in the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri.

An international human rights group says India is forcing women and girls with disabilities into mental institutions where they are "treated worse than animals."

A Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday says women and girls with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities are “dumped” in institutions by family members or police and have "no hope of escape." The report says the government is failing to provide appropriate support and services to these women.

The report says the institutionalized women face overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, forced electroconvulsive therapy, as well as physical, verbal, and even sexual abuse. It says the women and girls are denied adequate access to general healthcare.

The 106-page report says India's government must shift all women from forced institutional care to voluntary, community-based services.

The Indian government has not responded to the report.

Human Rights Watch visited 24 mental hospitals and treatment facilities between December 2012 and November 2014.

The visits occurred in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, and Mysore and included and included 200 interviews with women and girls with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities, their families, caretakers, mental health professionals, service providers, government officials, and the police.

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