‘Pasung’ or Shackling People with Disabilities Rises Amidst Pandemic

, Jakarta The Indonesian Health Ministry announced that the cases involving shackling people with disabilities in the country have increased by 20 percent throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The government currently registers 5,200 people with disabilities who are being shackled (or commonly known in local term as ‘pasung‘). 

Such a condition continues to occur even though the Indonesian government had introduced a program that effectively bans this cruel and inhuman practice called the ‘free from pasung’ program. 

The Health Ministry’s Director of Prevention and Mental Health Control and NAPZA, Siti Khalimah, said that the covid-19 pandemic and the growing practice of shackling are linked with one another.

Khalimah provided one example in the East Nusa Tenggara where a mentally disabled person lived with his wife and amidst the pandemic presented a situation where the person would relapse and start to physically abuse his wife, which happens more often.

“He would often beat his wife, which forced them to shackle the person,” said Siti Khalimah in an online conference titled ‘Protection and Prevention of Torture and Inhuman Punishment for Persons with Mental Disabilities’ on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. 

She also noted that the increase in recurring cases originated from people with mental disabilities during the pandemic is also caused by social limitations and noted that the government restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic have caused increasing pressure for people with disabilities.

They also are facing difficulties in accessing health services despite 4,400 healthcare services across Indonesia that provides psychiatric consultations. However, there are still 5 provinces that do not have psychiatric hospitals.

“Indonesia’s health issue has not taken priority. The culture is still concentrated on psychiatric hospitals, especially in major cities,” said Siti Khalimah.