Stop Torture in Health Care

When I go to a hospital or clinic, I expect to receive good quality, respectful care, and I usually do. Unfortunately, that is not the experience for many people around the world. For them, health care settings are not places of healing, but places where severe mental or physical suffering is inflicted as a result of government policy or negligence. This is especially true for patients from socially marginalized groups—people living with HIV, gays and lesbians, transgender persons, people who use drugs, and people with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems. Their contact with health facilities is too often characterized by physical abuse, insults, invasion of privacy, forced medical procedures, or denial of treatment. This amounts to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment—and in some cases, torture.

Such abuses must stop, and we all must do our part to make sure that they do. That is why a coalition of health and human rights organizations, including the Open Society Foundations, is launching the Campaign to Stop Torture in Health Care. We are committed to a world where health care centers are safe, and where our governments act to prevent all forms of torture.

Such egregious and pervasive cruelty is often condoned in the name of medicine, public health, or public order. For example, in the so-called “rehabilitation” centers throughout Southeast Asia, people who use drugs are locked away without any access to medical care or legal recourse. These centers are overseen by government authorities, with private business operating the forced labor facilities inside. The centers rely on physical abuse, shackles, solitary confinement, and other indignities to “treat” drug addiction and extract labor from the detainees. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people quickly return to drug use once they are released from these centers.

Across the globe, women continue to be forced or coerced by medical personnel to submit to permanent and irreversible sterilization procedures, sometimes even without their knowledge. Cases of forced and coerced sterilization have been reported in North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Women who are poor or stigmatized—Roma women, women living with HIV, indigenous women, women with physical or intellectual disabilities, women who use drugs—are most likely to be deemed “unworthy” of reproduction. Governments turn a blind eye to these practices in their own public hospitals. Perpetrators are seldom held accountable. Victims rarely obtain justice for this violent abuse of their rights.

Torture also happens when health care workers are prevented from helping patients because of ill-conceived government policies or regulations, or because of bureaucratic inertia. We recently met a young man named Vlad in the small town of Cherkasy, Ukraine (see his interview above). He was 18 when doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. He underwent several treatments in multiple hospitals but nothing could be done. Vlad’s condition deteriorated over the years: he became paralyzed, his kidneys began to fail, and he developed severe sepsis on both sides of his body from his bedsores.

Throughout all this, Vlad was tormented with pain. His mother begged every doctor and nurse she could find to give him more Omnopon or morphine—common and inexpensive medicines used to treat pain. But she was told, time and time again, that patients in Ukraine are only allowed 50 milligrams of morphine per day. When we inquired, we were told that 50 mg was first mentioned in a textbook produced by a pharmaceutical company some years back. It has no basis in medical evidence, and is completely arbitrary. In countries where access to pain relief is a reality, a typical patient with late-stage cancer might get 2,000 mg or more of morphine per day, whatever is needed to manage his or her pain symptoms. Yet no one in the Ukrainian government appears to be moving to clarify the appropriate amount of pain medication Vlad should have received. Denying Vlad and others like him appropriate and cheap pain medicine is literally an act of torture. It cannot be excused under any circumstance.

We are launching this campaign today for the hundreds of thousands of people who are tortured as a result of insufficient access to pain medicine, for the many who are locked away in drug detention centers where they are regularly beaten and abused, and for the women who are coerced or forced into being sterilized because they “should not be having children.”

We hope you will join us in fighting abusive treatment in health care worldwide.

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These are terrible stories and these things should never happen to anyone. Even in the U.S.A. people live tortured lives due to the sad state of the medical profession. If you have no money and no insurance you must live with your illnesses and just do the best you can. Unless of course you are an illegal alien or on welfare or something, then you can get plenty of treatment. But for those of us who try to pay our own way it is a nightmare.

Dear Mr. Carren,
A report on forced sterilization based on in-country research in Czechoslovakia in 1987-1988 has been written by Paul Öfner and Bert de Rooy. As fas as I know this is the first serious research done into this subject during the communist time. Mr. Van der Stoel presented the report on a OSCE-Conference in Copenhagen in 1990. Unfortunately, it is in Dutch language. However, the data collected by Ruben Pellar and Zbynek Anders, which are an essential part of the report, are in English.
If some-one is interested to get a copy I can send it by e-mail.
Hopefully, this report will contribute to the understanding of the systematic efforts of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia to get rid of the Roma community. The anti-gypsyism which forms the ideological justification for these practices, is still virulent in both the Czech and Slovak Republic.
Best regards,
Jef Helmer

Jef, yes, we would like this material is you can send it, either by email or by post. Thanks for your support!

In Tajikistan we are facing severe scarcity of resources for health (10-12 USD per capita per year) 80-90% of which goes for remuneration of medical staff which ridiculously low (100 USD)

let me thank you for all your,great concern about the less privilages,in our various societies at all part of the world.am saying,many more power to all your golden elbows.am encouraging you to continue,in your splendid works,towards the less privilages.its too painful that,this type of treatments are going on in the world.ive witness the same toture,in the land of asia.and have written to so many organisation about it,even spent my money.please never you relent,in telling the leaders of the world and the people,that it concern about it.all hands most be on desk,to fight this abomination,at all part of the world.thanks,so much for your kind co-operation.am john davidmcintosh okafor.

Puerto Rico (US Territory) Has the world's highest c-section rate. But that's not all, pregnant woman in labor are tricked and forced to unnecessary interventions and medical procedures, abuse, insults, invasion of privacy. It's not the only place in the world that birth has been turn to a pathological procedure. Woman that give birth are in extinction. It is gender violence since only woman give birth.
Thanks for unfolding all this truths.

If an animal does not deserve to suffer this much pain, then, why should we stand and watch our fellow blood (human beings)suffer like Vlad and the rest of the human beings allover the world with brain tumor go through this kind of pain. People allover the world, Health Torture MUST STOP! Let us a rise and finish this once and for all. Soon another torture is coming; who knows - it might be another virus - like the Tsunami in Japan. Help someone today and tomorrow you'll also need help. I would like to thank OSI for their dedicated struggle in fighting for the rights of people, may God bless the works of your hands.

I work as a CNA at one time in a nursing home then for home health traveling to peoples homes and now at a hospital. It is hard work and I concider people that work anywhere in the world as the heros yet a lot of people are in the dark on how much still needs to be improved on.Even in the U.S.,to care is to few and many need to become more aware.

In the United States, some segments of the population are vulnerable and victimized as well. Prisoners in some states have little access to health care and are labeled "malingering", "drug-seeking", and "manipulative" when they continue to seek help.

The prison population has more than tripled since 1975, far beyond our willingness to pay for it. Rehabilitation is now a quaint, old-fashioned idea and warehousing prisoners is the current model. 95% of the pweople in prison will be released; it only makes sense to help - or allow - people to improve.

This is an urgent matter for all of us. Write or call your representatives in state and Fedferal government! Tell them we need to be smart on crime, http://www.smartoncrime.com/ ,not tough on crimer.

Torture in most Uganda hospitals,is in form of money extortion by health officials from the sick. Mulago hospital, the biggest in Uganda receives so many victims of Motor Bike accidents daily.These can stay with their multiple fractures and in pain for several days unattended to. The Doctors concerned can ask for over a million shillings to attend give attention to these patients, of which money patients do not have. Eventually other patients just end up in death.

Katy Perry’s new album and video was released on MTV. It’s being pushed to be the pop video of the summer. How Kayne West — or anyone in this day and age in Hollywood or anywhere — can release the following lyrics: “Take Me... I Wanna Be A Victim... Infect me with your love and fill me with your poison.” This is completely irresponsible and it is LEGAL... I makes me feel so sad given the amount of artists, doctors, poets, writers, activists and fieldworkers slogging hard to disseminate messages to highly vulnerable adolescents who are reached by music and imagery...

You’re so hypnotizing
Could you be the devil? Could you be an angel?
Your touch magnetizing
Feels like I am floating, leaves my body glowing
They say be afraid
You’re not like the others, futuristic lover
Different DNA
They don’t understand you
You’re from a whole other world
A different dimension
You open my eyes
And I’m ready to go, lead me into the light
Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison
Take me, ta-ta-take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction
Boy, you’re an alien
Your touch so foreign
It’s supernatural
Extraterrestrial
You’re so supersonic
Wanna feel your powers, stun me with your lasers
Your kiss is cosmic
Every move is magic
You’re from a whole other world
A different dimension
You open my eyes
And I’m ready to go, lead me into the light
Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison
Take me, ta-ta-take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction
Boy, you’re an alien
Your touch so foreign
It’s supernatural
Extraterrestrial
This is transcendental
On another level
Boy, you’re my lucky star
I wanna walk on your wavelength
And be there when you vibrate
For you I’ll risk it all
Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison
Take me, ta-ta-take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction
Boy, you’re an alien
Your touch so foreign
It’s supernatural
Extraterrestrial, extraterrestrial, extraterrestrial
Boy, you’re an alien
Your touch so foreign
It’s supernatural
Extraterrestrial

http://www.real-stories-gallery.org/content/take-me-infect-me-your-love-...

Dear Françoise,

I read your article by accident and I loved it. Torture is still a big issue in North Africa (where men and women continue to suffer from it). With what's happening in Lybia, I only hope the international community does not foeget the lot of women in all this. I have a lot of respect for this article and its author. Fatima Sadiqi

Fatima Sadiqi
Founder of Gender Studies in Morocco
Women's Rights Advocate
Author

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