Finally, help for mentally ill woman chained for 15 years

August 17th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), Aug 17 (IANS) A woman in an Orissa village, chained since the past 15 years by her family because they could not afford medical treatment for her mental illness, has finally got help from the district administration, an official said Sunday. A team of officials brought Kamala Sethi, 26, for medical check up from her village to the district government hospital Saturday after the news about her plight appeared in a section of the media.

Sethi was examined by doctors. She will soon be taken to the Sriram Chandra Bhanja (SCB) Medical College hospital at Cuttack for treatment of her mental illness, said an official.

The family has been provided Rs.2,000. Steps are being taken to provide a house under Indira Awas Yojana, the official said.

“The administration will take measures to economically empower the family. Besides we will take care for her treatment,” district collector P.K. Meherda told IANS.

Sethi’s both legs were tied with a rope and a chain connecting it was tied to a wooden pole in a straw-thatched room that the family earlier used as a cowshed in Nacchipur village of Jagatsinghpur district, some 120 km from Orissa capital Bhubaneswar.

She had been living in the shed - like an animal, with no clothes on. It was her bedroom, bathroom, toilet and dining room combined. She was usually found lying down, but sometimes she would scream, shout and thrash around.

“She does everything inside,” her father Narayan had said.

“Her mother cleans the room every day to ensure that she does not fall ill.”

During her childhood, Sethi used to stammer, but she could help her mother Sailabala in household chores. She attended a school nearby and studied up to class 10. However, she developed some mental illness and became violent, Narayan said.

Doctors advised him to take her to a specialty hospital, but he could not arrange the funds required.

“I work as a daily wage earner and it is impossible to arrange funds for her treatment,” he said, adding that he, therefore, had no option but to keep her chained at home.

“She tore all her clothes and we have no money to buy new ones,” Sailabala had said, adding that the woman has been living in the same condition for the past 15 years.

The couple said they appealed to the administration and some NGOs for help but to no avail.

Sethi is the eldest of the couple’s two daughters and one son, Arbinda.

Arbinda, 25, left home to look for a job outside Orissa but there has been no word from him since then. “We don’t know where he is,” Sailabala said.

“We are happy that the administration has now come forward to help us” she said.

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