Advocacy Organization Exposes Abuse in Paraguayan Psychiatric Hospital

Posted on 25 August 2008. Filed under: Cognitive Impairments, Human Rights, Latin America & Caribbean, Psychiatric Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

From Mental Disability Rights International Newsletter:

MDRI Exposes Deaths and Abuse in Paraguayan Psychiatric Hospital and Demands Immediate Government Action

August 13, 2008 – Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) and the Center for Justice in International Law (CEJIL) have filed a successful appeal to stop egregious abuses being perpetrated against people at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in Paraguay.

In a petition filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), MDRI described a pattern of abuse, including four unexplained deaths, numerous complaints of sexual abuse and horrific physical abuse, including a castration, all within the past six months.

On July 29, the IACHR called on the Paraguayan government to take immediate action to protect the lives of all those detained at the facility and to report back to them on measures taken to prevent future abuses.

In 2003, the IACHR approved MDRI and CEJIL’s request for immediate intervention at the same hospital following the discovery of children, diagnosed with autism, locked in cages for years. On the heels of this intervention, the Paraguayan government signed an agreement with MDRI and CEJIL to gradually deinstitutionalize its mental health system while expanding the services and supports available in the community.

“Paraguay’s mental health system continues to systematically violate the rights of persons who use its services,” said Alison A. Hillman, Director of MDRI’s Americas Programs. “We anticipate that the Inter-American Commission’s intervention will bring added pressure on the government to address the root causes of these abuses and fulfill their commitments to fully integrate persons with disabilities into the community.”

MDRI is an advocacy organization that exposes human rights abuses against people with psycho-social and intellectual disabilities around the world, particularly within institutions. Learn more about MDRI and their activities at their web site: http://www.mdri.org



This notice was recently circulated via email in MDRI’s electronic newsletter. Individuals may subscribe directly to MDRI’s newsletter by entering their email address at http://www.mdri.org/mdri-enews.html

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REPORT: Violence Against Disabled Children

Posted on 8 March 2008. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Children, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Reports, Resources, Violence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UNICEF has released a summary report entitled, “Violence Against Disabled Children” (PDF format 245 Kb), with the subtitle “UN Secretary Generals Report on Violence against Children, Thematic Group on Violence against Disabled Children, Findings and Recommendations.”

The first half of this report, released in July 2005, summarizes what is known about violence toward children with disabilities at home, in schools, in institutions, in the criminal justice system, within the broader community, and at work (in child labor situations). Children with disabilities are known to be at higher risk for abuse, partly because they may be perceived as “easy victims.” Also, abuse toward disabled children is less likely to be investigated or persecuted, which means abusers know it is easier to escape consequences even if the abuse is discovered.

Many children, with or without disabilities, may face adults who fail to listen or to believe them when they try to report abuse. But children with disabilities face additional barriers. As one example, some adults may mistakenly assume that a child with intellectual disabilities or psycho-social disabilities must surely be “confused,” or unable to tell right from wrong, or unable to make their own decisions about what is done to their bodies.

Disabled children may also be targeted for child murder, either because parents perceive them as bringing shame to the family or because adults may be convinced they will be “better off” dead than disabled. In countries where many men share the belief that sex with a virgin will “cleanse” them of HIV/AIDS, girls, boys, and adults with disabilities may be targeted for rape on the assumption that they do not have sex. Children with disabilities also may be forcibly sterilized, sometimes as early as the age of 8 or 9.

The report makes a series of 13 recommendations for families, communities, policy makers, governments, advocates, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or Civil Society Organizations, United Nations agencies, and other stakeholders with an interest in preventing violence toward disabled children. These recommendations include, as a few examples: increasing public awareness; reforming legislation so that the laws can better protect children with disabilities; advocating change to improve inclusion of disabled people throughout society; improving reporting mechanisms so that people who become aware of abuse have a way to report it; closing down institutions and integrating disabled children into the community; but also improving government oversight of institutions for as long as they continue to exist.

The 33-page report can be downloaded in PDF format (245 Kb) at:

http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/UNICEF_Violence_Against_Disabled_Children_Report_Distributed_Version.pdf

People interested in the topic of violence against children may also wish to read an article on violence and disabled children in the 2003 issue of the joint Rehabilitation International and UNICEF newsletter, One in Ten:

http://riglobal.org/publications2/10_24.htm

Also of possible interest:

A recent report, Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities could give ideas to advocates and families for how they can use international human rights laws to protect the rights of children with disabilities.

Learn about a report on human rights abuses of disabled children and adults in Serbia, including the use of violence.

Read a paper on Violence Against Blind and Visually Impaired Girls in Malawi

Those interested in abuse and human rights violations in institutional settings may also wish to read the following first-hand accounts written by the same author, Amanda Baggs. These are well worth reading. Some talk about the more obvious kinds of violence that most people are used to thinking of as “abuse.” Some talk about forms of psychological manipulation that are so subtle that outside observers might miss them. But Amanda Baggs makes powerful arguments for why “outposts in our head,” or the uses of power nevertheless can be at least as important for anyone who cares about the well-being of children (and adults) with disabilities. Click on any title below to see Amanda Bagg’s post:

Why It’s So Hard to Write Directly About My Life
Outposts in Our Heads: The Intangible Horrors of Institutions that Must Not Be Forgotten
The Meaning of Power
Extreme Measures, and Then Some



We Can Do learned about the UNICEF report on violence against disabled children from the AskSource.info database. Asksource.info provides a library of information, resources, and toolkits related to people with disabilities and to health issues, particularly in developing countries.



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