Mentally ill woman kept chained for 15 years

August 13th, 2008 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jatindra Dash
Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), Aug 13 (IANS) Kamala Sethi, 26, has spent 15 years chained to a pole by her family that cannot afford medical treatment for her mental illness. Both her legs have been tied with a rope and a chain connecting it is 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 in eastern India.

She has been living in the shed - like an animal, with no clothes on. It is her bedroom, bathroom, toilet and dining room combined. She is usually found lying down, but sometimes she screams, shouts and thrashes around.

“She does everything inside,” her father Narayan told IANS.

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

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

Local doctors advised him to take her to a speciality 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.

“Kamala tore all her clothes and we have no money to buy new ones,” Sailabala 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.

Kamala is the eldest of the couple’s two daughters and one son.

Brother 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.

(Jatindra Dash can be contacted at

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