Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Protest against MoHFW on World Mental Health Day

Disabled Rights Group (DRG) & National Alliance on Access to Justice for People Living with Mental Illness (NAAJMI) is organizing a protest (Dharna; sit in) outside the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to demand an immediate stop to the process of bringing in the draconian Mental Health ‘Care’ Act!

The day is specifically chosen as World Mental Healthcare Day, i.e. Wednesday, 10th October and the venue will be Nirman Bhawan, Maulana Azad Road at 10:00 am onwards.

India is home to 30-40 million people living with psychosocial disabilities or what we refer to as ‘mental illness’.

The archaic Mental Health Act of 1987, an offshoot of the colonial Lunacy Acts, makes people with ‘unsound’ mind non-human! They are not considered to have opinions, wishes or feelings. They are meant to be locked away, drugged and given electric shock treatments!

The Disability Act of 1995 defines ‘mental illness’ as a disability. India has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that talks about India’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of ALL persons with disabilities. However, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare seems to be knowingly or unknowingly ‘unaware’ of this. Nothing explains why then has it come out with a Mental Health Care (MHC) Bill, while completely failing to include mental health & well being into the Right to Health Act!

The draft of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2012 recently unveiled by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) guarantees ‘legal capacity’ and the ‘right to choice’ of all persons with disabilities, including those with psychosocial disabilities. The Ministry of Health has gone drastically against CRPD and the draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill and has advocated for involuntary incarceration and continuing with electric shock treatments and even lobotomies! Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing!


The rights of people with psychosocial disabilities must be governed by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Why is the Health Ministry then overstepping its turf? What is the Health Ministry’s motivation?

While the draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill of MSJE talks about ‘full legal capacity’, MHC Bill talks about ‘involuntary incarceration’? What is the Government of India’s stand on the issue if two of its Ministries are talking diametrically opposite on this?

Involuntary incarceration, over drugging, mental asylums, electric shock treatment and the rampant abuse & exploitation that goes on in the name of psychiatry and mental health goes against the letter of CRPD that India has ratified. What is India’s answer to the international community?


About Disabled Rights Group (DRG):

Disabled Rights Group (DRG) is a national, non-political, cross-disability coalition of people with disabilities and their organisations, NGOs working in the disability sector and parents. It was formed in 1993 with the objective of the drafting and passage of the Disability Act of 1995, India’s first ever disability rights law. Ever since, DRG has been able to successfully advocate for several path breaking policy and legislative changes on disability issues.


The National Alliance on Access to Justice for People Living with a Mental Illness (NAAJMI) is a coalition of people and organisations active since the year 2005 to consolidate a philosophy on the human rights of persons living with psychosocial disabilities with a vision to assure “A Life of Dignity for Every Person Living with Mental Illness”. NAAJMI has been continually advocating for free and voluntary mental health care services, questioning various involuntary commitment provisions of the Mental Health Act, 1987 and is concerned about the 150 or so legal provisions disempowering people with disabilities of their various civil, political, social, and economic rights.

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