VIMUKTI demands to allocate more funds mental health treatment services to cope up with mental health challenges in the wake of COVID 19 on the occasion of World Mental Health Day on 10th Oct 2020.
VIMUKTI said that, it is proved as a high time to extend a helping hand to the women in prostitution (sex workers) with necessary mental health services and moral and social support along with those poor, marginalised and weaker sections of people in the society who affected in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic outbreak. And hence, VIMUKTI the Network of Rescued Survivors of Trafficking requested the state and central Governments to take measures to flag off the Mental Health Services among the Primary Health Centres across the state with necessary funds allocations.
On the occasion of World Mental Health Day on 10th Oct, Smt Haseena – VIMUKTI State Convener, Smt. Munni – Co-Convener and ILFAT (India Leadership Forum Against Trafficking) AP State Convener Smt Durga stated that, there are more than a lakh sex worker in the state of Andhra Pradesh who are suffering a lot with mental health disorders more than anyone in the state. This is because of the extreme pressure by the brokers, brothel owners and traffickers who earn from them as parasites and at the other side of the coin the family circumstances where there is no source of income to meet the needs at least for a fistful of food for their children and aged parents including themselves besides the stigma and discrimination by the society. The sex workers fall prey to the mental health disorders due to their social and mental weakness caused by the sexual assaults, abuse and exploitation during childhood, now the physical torture by the customers, poverty, sexual violence and affected by STIs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) at teenage and drug addiction. They added, the facilities for mental health treatment services through Primary Health Centres will be one of the crucial steps towards resolving this key issue of sex workers in the state.
Mr. Bhaskar – HELP project Coordinator stressed that, one of the major factors causing mental health disorders to the sex workers, rescued victims of trafficking and the minor girl victims is instead of providing mental health treatment services to those deserved as above said, they are being kept under forced detention in the shelter home for months and years long in the name of institutional rehabilitation services. As a result, they are becoming much weaker mentally and are becoming scape goats to the traffickers by re-trafficking as they are not able to give up the habits of drugs consumption.
According to one of the recent surveys 100% of those who are rescued alive from the vicious cycle of prostitution are living lonely with helplessness and exposed to unacceptance by families and are shown a sense of social anxiety. It is found that, 87.3% are suffering with distimia, 12.7% are under depression which is at a highest ratio compared to the normal population (1.8%).
Depression is a chronic state where these symptoms remains up to two years or more also it is a distinguished feature of the wound/affect. Such a person suffers from negligence, fatigue, dilemma, sense of helplessness, lack of self-respect, inferiority complex, suicidal tendency and repeated sense of committing suicide. Its challenging for them to respond to the needs and requirements of needs of others in terms of their growth and development, improving skills for livelihoods and for their rehabilitation.
Some of the victims have stated that they have been facilitated with the rehabilitation services after their longer periods of stay in shelter homes but not voiced out regarding their chronic mental health disorders. The victims of these shelter homes are suffering due to lack of quality services mainly mental health services and even not having the services by the professional counsellors.
There are no mainstream rehabilitation services through public health system, no prescribed systems by local panchayath or by district governance to determine their care and protection and socio-economic rights of the victims. This results in inaccessibility of mental health services even after they returned to their families at their villages.
There is a dire need for a mechanism that addresses the distimia, depression and mental stress of the victims rescued from trafficking at their community settings itself as there is high dearth of professional psychologists and mental health practitioners in district and rural backgrounds level. Mental health services are helpful to not only those who are sexually exploited and rescued from trafficking but also those who are the victims of rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The girls and women will not access and mainstreamed with the services of education, skill training and empowerment without get relief or recovered from the wounds and chronic impact that they have experienced. They are exposed to the socio-economic and mental stress and dilemma due to the domestic violence and become victims of demean or humility and finally they remained as everlasting victims.
There is a need for comprehensive Act against Human Trafficking. This shall be with clear definitions and indicators of rehabilitation and restoration.
Mental health services and treatments to be provided to the rescued victims of trafficking before their rehabilitation also if there is any trace of wounds on their body, the information shall be given to the protective homes and police and provide support to NGOs who extend such support to the victims.
Listen to the victims and their agony, trust them and provide them with the opportunity to be the part of policy framing or reformations by taking their suggestions in to consideration and also make them to be the part of committee meant for implementation of those policies.
Ensure that there are the facilities of mental health treatment services available to the victims through district mental health programmes at district and remote villages levels.
We demand the central and state government on the occasion of World Mental Health Day on this 10th Oct 2020 to provide necessary mental health services to those rescued victims of trafficking in persons and sex workers without negligence who are in need through setting up mental health treatment centres. Further, it is demanded to make necessary arrangements towards community-based rehabilitation services with their families including facilitating victim compensation services beyond keeping them under forced detention in shelter home in the name of rehabilitation.