Mental Health Groups: Rape Reports By Women In Psych Wards Are Not
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 9, 2006
LONDON, ENGLAND--British mental health groups this week suggested that a report, which revealed that women in psychiatric wards have been subjected to at least 300 sexual assaults over the last three years, may be showing just the tip of the iceberg.
The new data, gathered from mental health trusts across England, reportedly showed that 224 of those assaults were by other patients, even though the government claims that 99 percent of psychiatric units separate women from men.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, Paul Farmer, director of Mind, and Moira Fraser, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, all told The Independent that patients do not feel safe in reporting such crimes because their reports have not been taken seriously.
"Psychiatric units have become places which are rife with aggression and fear because of overcrowding and understaffing," said Wallace. "Sexual assaults happen far too easily and when they do they are not being taken seriously and reported."
The government's National Director for Mental Health, Louis Appleby, responded that, while he is determined to address the sexual safety of women in mental health wards, "In my opinion, there is significant doubt in the majority of cases as to whether any incident occurred."
Mental health charities have forced the government to spend £30 million ($573 million US) to increase the safety of women on wards. The department of health is currently writing new guidelines to improve sexual safety within the National Health Service, the Independent noted.
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