Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A mental case

I have been staying near the Short Stay Home of APMAS ( Andhra Pradesh Mahila Abhyudaya Samiti) (addressMIG-163, Housing Board,Ongole 523001)and go there daily to eat with Aruna Tella and others. I have been listening to the stories of hundreds of women who passed through the home who came here to escape abuse at home. Many end in temporary reconcialation, others get some training and help to look after themselves. There are also some cases of mental instability caused by problems at home. These may end up with temporary or permanent problems. One such case was described in A dedicated lady, where the lady’s condition has improved but delusions remain. Most of the girls I have seen look better than average looking girls and that may be part of their problem. I will refrain from giving actual names or photos for obvious reasons. Here is a traumatic case from this year.
The story started around 2009-2010 in a small town nearby called Giddaluru. A girl in eighth grade, who was living with her father who worked for the military and a step mother, started absconding from classes and wandering around the town and forest nearby. The indications are that she was sexually abused by several people. Then, one day this year, her father found her unconscious in the forest and brought her to a hospital in Giddaluru. Her condition was quite bad, body full of various infections and head full of lice. As soon as she recovered consciousness, she accused her father of sexual molestation. A case was registered against him and she was brought to the Short Stay Home ( now called Swadhar Gruha) in Ongole since that is the only centre around which caters to such unfortunate women. She started getting treatment for her infections and her head had to shaved off to get rid of lice. There were also signs of mental instability and she used to pass urine wherever she liked. Some of the other girls took care of her cleaning her and around her and these included the dedicated lady above who had her own mental problems. She also started getting treatment from a psychiatrist in a government hospital and showed improvement on all fronts. But in a few months ( her total stay in the Short Stay Home was for approximately six months) her condition deteriorated again and she also started hitting people who went to assist her, though sometimes she exempted the dedicated lady. Aruna Tella felt that there were no chances for permanent improvement and that she should be sent to a regular mental hospital. But the doctor felt that her condition was improving under his treatment and refused to recommend such an option. This lasted until she attacked the doctor and he had to hide behind a table. Finally the doctor recommended her to be taken away to a hospital.
At this stage Aruna Tella attended a public meeting and spoke of her frustrations running the Short Stay Home ( now called Swadhar Gruha). One of the audience was a retired police officer from Giddaluru and he immediately phoned the current C.I. who responded by sending an ambulance at his own expense (apparently the government does not provide finds for such expenses to the Short Stay Home or the police). This process took about a week and they needed the permission from the magistrate to transport her to the mental hospital in Vizag. But the magistrate wanted a new certificate from a doctor again because of the delay. The C.I. took the trouble to wait at a doctor’s place until he returned from an assignment and finally the girl who is 21 now was ready to be sent to vizag. The dedicated lady and another lady went along with lots of clothes to change whenever the girl urinated and finally took her to Vizag where the hospital refused to admit her since it was a Sunday. Again the C.I. From Giddaluru had to intervene through police connections to get her admi
That was about a month and half ago and there is another twist to the story. The girl’s condition seems to have improved vastly in Vizag and she made a confession. Apparently, infidelity among military wives is suspected because of their long absences from home. Such suspicions were raised in her father’s case. One day she came home and saw her mother’s head split by an axe, allegedly killed by her father and that started her trauma. And when her almost lifeless body was found by her father and taken to a hospital, after partial recovery she accused him to revenge for her mother’s murder. The case is still going on. The father may escape one accusation and face another.

This seems to be the kind of problems that people face when they run Short Stay Homes. As it is, they develop reputations as brothels since the girls are usually better looking than average girls. There is shortness and delay of funding and no funds for medical needs. Generally public is not sympathetic to such places as the girls have shown some pluck and independence. I think that they deserve more sympathy and help.

There is another evolving story of delay in funds, government officials imposing arbitrary rules for new certificates of verification and so on for delayed funds which are already sanctioned. When I suggested to Aruna Tella that newspapers should take up such stories, her response was that pro-government papers do not publish such stories. But in general, there seem to be several schemes in place by the government with usual delivery problems and red tape.

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