Mentally Disabled People in Afghanistan
Many people are suffering from psychological disorders in Afghanistan, a country blighted by decades of war. The mentally disabled face discrimination here, leaving their loved ones to bear much of the burden. Insights by Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi
No tolerance: Mentally disabled children in Afghanistan are taunted and bullied by their peers from an early age. A lack of available information and support also means parents often don't know how to deal with their children.
A lack of access to education: There are no special schools for the disabled in Afghanistan. Many children cannot attend 'normal' schools because of the bullying problem. Patients at this clinic in Herat are learning to read and write.
Left to their own devices: There are however few such institutions for mentally disabled people in Afghanistan. Those that do exist are in the big towns and cities, and many of these are criticized for inadequate patient provision.
Sidelined or locked away: The US medical association estimates that 70 percent of the Afghan population suffers from psychological disorders. The mentally disabled face discrimination and a bleak future. The burden this places on their families is considerable.
Meagre meals: The residents of this institution are given something to eat once a day. There isn't much space, so the men are forced to eat outside sitting on the ground, where one man has found himself a resting place for a nap.
Social contact: Mentally disabled people are able to connect with and make friends with others at the institutions. It's not possible for them to do this in Afghan society. Many lead isolated lives and are unable to find partners to start families of their own.
The stigma remains: These men are happy to at least have a roof over their heads. The fence keeps them in while at the same time protecting them from any hostility. Most mentally disabled people are cast out by society.