India is home to 30-40 million people living with psychosocial disabilities or what we refer to as disability caused due to a ‘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; and cannot act upon their own will, as per laws.
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 ofALL persons with disabilities.
However, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare seems to be ‘unaware’ of this. Nothing explains why then it has come out with a Mental Health Care (MHC) Bill, while completely failing to include mental health & well being to 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 the ‘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!
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