Indonesian care homes slated for abusing mentally disabled

Rights commsssion report says patients often beaten in privately run institutions
Indonesian care homes slated for abusing mentally disabled

A Catholic woman offers food and drink to mentally disabled people at a care facility in Bekasi, West Java in this 2012 file photo. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews.com)

Indonesia's human rights commission, Komnas HAM, has accused several privately-run care facilities across Java of beating and neglecting mentally disabled people.

At least six establishments were slated by the commission, particularly in Brebes and Cilacap districts in Central Java, and Bantul and Sleman districts in Yogyakarta.

In a report, released on Dec.3 to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the commission said staff at such facilities regularly mistreated mentally disabled people, which included beating them.

The report was based on a study of such facilities across Java.

"They considered them not useful and dangerous and didn't want to even bathe them," said Choirul Anam, a Komnas HAM commissioner.

Families were no better, with many believing relatives with mental disabilities were cursed, a disgrace or possessed by evil spirits and who should be abandoned at care facilities, according to the report.

"They live in these places because their families reject them. The families are ashamed by the fact that a family member has a mental disorder," said Anam.

"Our goal in releasing these findings is to get the government and society change the way these facilities operate," he said.

Mochamad Felani, who took part in the study, said men, women and children were packed into one room at some facilities.

"We even found women were being bathed and dressed by men, which increases the opportunity of sexual abuse," he told ucanews.com.

Maria Agustina Nina from Jakarta, who has a mentally disabled daughter, said the contents of the report were shocking.

"I did not realize patients are treated so inhumanely in those centers," she said.

She said the government needs to impose standards on how mentally disabled people should be treated, which should be strictly enforced.

Social Affairs Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, responded to the report by vowing swift punishment against any facility that abuses mentally disabled people's rights.

"The facilities [in the report] are not run by us, but we will punish those who flout regulations," Kartasasmita was quoted by news outlet Kompas.com as saying.

He also lamented what he said was a shortage of people caring for those with mental disabilities.

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Indonesia has 260 million people but only 773 psychiatrists and 451 clinical psychologists.

According to the Ministry of Health, about 14 million people suffer from a mental disability in the country.

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