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Archive for the ‘May 2011’ Category

Disturbing! Mentally Ill Patients Shackled And Chained In Somalia

In May 2011 on May 25, 2011 at 3:17 am

Disturbing! Mentally Ill Patients Shackled And Chained In Somalia

May 22, 2011
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Hassan Qasim lies shackled to a wall in a hallway with 25 other patients at a clinic for the mentally ill. He whispers under his breath and spits at his neighbors. Torn and dirty clothes hang off his skinny frame.

Doctors say the 25-year-old’s brother and sister were killed in front of him, and that he was abducted and tortured by gunmen. Soon after, Qasim began wandering the streets naked, lashing out at passers-by.

In this Horn of Africa nation that has been mired in anarchy and war for two decades, nearly all families have been touched by tragedy. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three Somalis have suffered from some kind of mental illness, a rate that is among the highest in the world.

Gunfire crackles every few seconds in Mogadishu at night, and mortars scream out of the sky.

“We believe every bullet or mortar will cause more people to become mentally ill,” said Dr. Abdirahman Ali Awale, a Somali psychiatrist.

Somalia’s civil war also has simultaneously destroyed health care infrastructure to treat the traumatized. A World Health Organization report found that the country has only three psychiatrists and no psychologists working at its five main mental health facilities.

As a result, some Somalis have been chained up in mental wards for as long as eight years, according to the WHO. At one mental health facility, almost 50 percent of patients were chained. At other clinics, doctors recite the Quran to patients, hoping it will improve their condition.

This year, WHO began giving medicine and other supplies to the Habeb mental hospital, the only facility that treats patients without detaining them.

“Our treatment is chain-free. We never restrain them,” said Dr. Abdirahman Habeb. He says the facility has treated more than 9,000 psychiatric patients using a combination of medicine and counseling. Still, the majority of mentally ill people in Somalia face much grimmer prospects.

The Somali government, which is consumed by political infighting and battling an al-Qaida-linked insurgency, is unable to even assert control over all of Mogadishu much less help its traumatized population. It relies on 9,000 African Union peacekeepers to retain control of half the country’s capital.

Dr. Rizwan Hamayun, who helped write a WHO study earlier this year examining mental health in Somalia, said the chaos has resulted in a loss of jobs, family, homes and property which in turns can contribute to mental illness. His latest new patient was a shepherd who attempted suicide after losing all his animals not to war but to a natural calamity – an ongoing drought.

While poverty and fear are the main triggers for mental illness, some also have been intimidated by continuous threats made by insurgents over mobile phones. Insurgents call and threaten people they suspect of collaborating with the government. As punishment for alleged crimes, insurgents saw off captives’ hands and feet in public squares and stone people to death.

The insurgents accused Ibrahim Nuraddin of selling phone credit, bread, and other small items to Somali soldiers. The elderly former shopkeeper had a mental breakdown after receiving frequent death threats, relative Ibrahim Farabadn said.

Nuraddin had already spent one year imprisoned in his family’s house or tied to a tree. Finally, relatives sought treatment after hearing that a Mogadishu clinic was taking patients. Three hefty men dragged Nuraddin into the clinic but he struggled to escape. They quickly chained him up.

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Charges: Mom Pushed Child In Stroller Down Stairs

In May 2011 on May 12, 2011 at 5:02 am

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A mother has been arrested after allegedly pushing her baby in a stroller down a flight of stairs at the Lake Street light rail train station Tuesday evening.

Police said the incident happened during an argument between the mother, 26-year-old Lisa Marie Martin, and her boyfriend. When officers arrived, they found the boyfriend holding the 4-month-old baby as Martin yelled at him. His face was bloodied. A crowd had gathered around them.

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses on the platform earlier saw Martin fighting with the unnamed boyfriend from the top of the stairwell as he went down the stairs to get away from her.

She was heard yelling at him, “You already got a 12 and 14 year old you don’t give a s*** about and now you don’t give a s*** about this one! I’m gonna push this one down the steps! I’m pregnant again!”

Martin was then seen pushing the stroller down the steps. The stroller tipped over before it could reach Martin’s boyfriend, and the baby fell out onto the concrete stairs.

The criminal complaint says that Martin, instead of picking the baby up to check on its welfare, ran to her boyfriend and started punching him in the face. Someone at the light rail station went to the child’s assistance.

Martin told police she was currently two months pregnant. She admitted to drinking at least five beers before the fight.

As Martin was arrested, she kicked two officers and spat at one of them.

The baby was checked out at Hennepin County Medical Center. He had some scratches on his cheek and thigh and a scab on his scalp.

Martin has been charged with felony fourth-degree assault, gross misdemeanor endangerment and neglect of a child and misdemeanor domestic assault.