An Urgent need: the health of the differently-abled

4 September 2012 09:05 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Providing New Legislative Protection for mentally retarded persons beyond 18 years of age

By: U.R.Fernando
Although there is some legislation for the protection of mentally retarded children below 18 years of age, there is no legislation or Safety Homes / Rehabilitation /Development Centres, provided by the State, for this category of persons after they reach 18 years of age.

Especially such females over 18 years, who are mentally retarded face grave dangers of sexual abuse with dire consequences of pregnancies and / or social diseases including HIV infection. News reports of sexually abused, mentally retarded females are frequent and some of the victims had become pregnant. Similar cases unreported may be quite large.

The mentally retarded population is increasing and there is an acute need for state intervention and aid for them to save them from being victims of physical and sexual abuse, as well as for the rehabilitation and development of whatever inherent skills, they may possess to improve their self-esteem and mental outlook.

There are numerous private “Rehabilitation Centres” in the Western Province that charge exorbitant sums as “Refundable Deposits” and for food and maintenance charges per month, despite the fact that their facilities are minimal or unsatisfactory and rehabilitation programmes are unproductive.

To correct this situation, the state should enact New Legislation to protect and advance the interests of mentally retarded persons over 18 years, especially the females, who are vulnerable for abuse by providing Safe Homes with hostel and medical wards for administering specified drugs, with well - administered rehabilitation programmes to assist these unfortunate persons.

Sexual abuse of such persons should carry special and graver penalties that should deter persons from such inhuman acts.
The writer is the General Secretary of the Ceylon Bank Employees' Union

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