Panchagarh, Oct 25 (UNB) - A mentally ill woman in Sadar upazila here has reportedly been confined to a room for eight years tied to shackles.
Korsina, 35, daughter of Kalim Uddin of Horeyapara village under Satmera union of the upazila and mother of two children, is said to have become mentally unstable through years of torture inflicted allegedly by her husband. Their marriage ended six years back.
Visiting her parents’ place, the UNB correspondent found that her left leg was chained to a pillar of a room. On that day, the shackle was placed around her left ankle, having been shifted from her right after the constant friction of skin against metal caused bruising that needs respite to heal - and so on it goes, rotating between her left and her right ankles.
For eight years now, it has been perhaps the only change that Korsina could look forward to, in the midst of an ordeal that is as constant as it is demeaning.
At first sight, nothing about Korsina would strike you as out-of-place or abnormal, except the chains, and the sound they make.
Her speech is organised, and she is well-mannered. And she is also literate, reliably more than the handful of names of family members she demonstrates on being asked to. As we learn, her problems started well into adulthood.
Due to unidentified reasons, Korsina sometimes turns aggressive and tries to attack anyone in front of her. When she gets the chance, i.e. when she is unshackled, she tends to go off and become untraceable. Even to the layman, it sounds ripe for a diagnosis of personality disorder that a mental health professional could visit her and make.
Locals and family members said once Korsina was a normal and talented girl. When she was a Class-X student, parents married her off to Nazim Uddin of Manikdoba village in Tentulia upazila.
In around 12 years of conjugal life, she gave birth to a son and a daughter. But family members alleged that the husband used to torture her mentally and physically during the entire period for unknown reasons. The torture was accelerated after she gave birth to their second child, a daughter.
At one stage, Nazim Uddin labeled his wife as mentally deranged and started confining her to a room tying her with an iron shackle around one ankle, just as she is now.
Eventually, he sent her back to her parents and divorced her. He married another woman just two months after divorcing Korsina.
Currently, he along with his second wife and two children are leading a happy life at the house where Koprsina once built a family. The son is a Class-V student and the daughter is seven years old.
But Korsina is facing exactly the opposite reality. After getting divorced, her mental illness worsened, particularly in the face of indifference from her children.
She always wanted to visit her children, take care of them like only a mother could. When that was taken away from her where did it leave her self-worth? The abnormally aggressive behaviour lashing out at anyone yet no-one ensued.
Her family members said she ran away from home several times.
Once she had been admitted to Pabna Mental Hospital for two months. But her day-labourer father could not afford the cost of her treatment beyond the two months at that stage.
As a result, she was brought back home and kept confined and shackled - thus her current predicament.
She spent around eight years in this demeaning condition that in the 21st century is nothing short of outrageous, even in a remote corner of Bangladesh. Sometimes she is given sleeping pills, but they stopped working after a while.
She behaves mostly normal during daylight but her screams and cries increase at night, causing disturbance to others.
Nuruzzaman, a neighbour, said her illness is getting worse day by day due to aloofness from her children and negligence from her husband. She may get cured if she is provided with proper treatment and cordial behaviour, he said.
Alima Begum, Korsina’s mother, said she has no option but to enchain her as she tends to run away. “I feel bad to keep her in such a condition, but what can I do?”
Claiming that Korsina was normal before the marriage, said her father Kalim Uddin alleging that she became mentally deranged due to torture by her husband.
“Although we had proposed bearing all the expenses of her treatment back then, Nazim divorced her. Now I no longer can afford her treatment,” he said.
Satmera Union Parishad Chairman Ataur Rahman said she was provided with VGD card (allowing access to Vulnerable Group Development programme of the government) for her treatment.
The issue was also reported to the deputy commissioner, who assured the family of taking steps to provide medical assistance, he added.
Mental health professionals with more time-befitting ideas on how to allow such patients to lead a better life with both dignity and self-respect, instead of resorting to medieval cop-outs such as shackles, may also come forward of their own accord.