World Mental Health Day: Shackled for Years, Now Free

Sodikin, a 34-year-old man with a psychosocial disability, at his workplace. Sodikin, who was shackled for more than eight years in a tiny shed outside the family home in Cianjur, West Java, now works in a clothing factory stitching buttons onto boys’ school uniforms. © 2018 Andrea Star Reese for Human Rights Watch

Shackling people with mental health conditions has been commonplace in Indonesia for years. Pictures of emaciated men and women chained to their hard, wooden beds are hard to get out of your mind. But there is some hope. The number of people in shackles has dropped from 18,800 — the last-reported figure — to 12,800 in July 2018. Sodikin and Asep are two of the people who have been freed.

Sodikin

Living in Hell

Asep

“The first time he was in shackles, everybody was crying, we had no option.”

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