TWO West Coast Berbice women – one mentally ill and another crippled – were on Monday rescued from shocking conditions of abuse and neglect.Officers of the Probation and Social Services Division of the Ministry of Social Protection in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice) have now placed the women in better care, after discovering the conditions under which they were forced to live.
The cases follow a similar one discovered on the Essequibo Coast four days ago, in which a 31-year-old woman who had been imprisoned by her mother for more than a year had been forced to live under inhuman conditions.
A mentally-ill woman, said to be 31 years old, was found living in what the officers described as a “cage” some distance away from the family home at Belladrum village, WCB. She was completely naked at the time officers visited, and they had to break into the facility to get her out. The stench of faeces and urine, the Officers said, was overpowering.
There was no bed, no furniture, not even a piece of cardboard on the floor, the officers said. They learnt that the woman had been kept prisoner in that enclosure by her parents and relatives for the past 17 years. The officers said that relatives attempted to justify keeping the woman in that state by saying that she was demon possessed and was often adversely affected by the full moon. On full moon nights, they said, they had to tie her up with rope to restrain her from harming herself or others.
“The mother told us that she would bathe her by throwing water on her through holes in the wall,” the officers said.
The Social Services Officers disclosed that festering sores on the victim’s legs just above her ankles suggested that she had been frequently tied up or restrained by rope in the enclosure.
This thirty-one-year-old woman was taken to a hospital for medical treatment, and is expected to be transferred to the National Psychiatric Hospital for observation and treatment.
And a crippled woman, said to be 39, was found living in horrific conditions in an outhouse that officers described as a sheep pen, located near where her relatives lived “in a spacious house” at Weldaad Village, WCB.
She was found in a dirty and unkempt condition, and the living quarters reeked of urine and faeces, they said. This disabled woman could only drag on her buttocks. The officers said the seat of a pair of dirty trousers she was wearing had been worn out.
The woman told the officers that she had been living in the sheep pen since taking ill some twenty years ago. She alleged that while sharing the pen with animals, she had been frequently beaten by her mother for not keeping the enclosure clean.
The woman said one of her sisters, a school teacher, sits as a Councillor on the Region Five Democratic Council, and is a candidate in the upcoming Local Government elections.
This crippled woman was also hospitalized shortly after being rescued. Officers have said she will be taken to the Hugo Chavez Centre at Onverwagt, WCB for accommodation and treatment after her discharge from hospital.
The Ministry of Social Services has said it is ironic that the relatives of both women had been collecting social assistance money for the maintenance of these women. They disclosed that the raids leading to the discoveries were done in collaboration with the police, and they are fully expecting that charges will soon be laid against those who had kept the women living under such cruel conditions.