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Mental Healthcare We can’t put ‘mad’ men in prison and expect them to come out normal - Psychiatrist

Desmond Egyir Muna is advocating for decriminalisation of defilement instead of jailing culprits when in fact they are mentally ill.

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Ghana is grappling with the issue of mental health care, hence the constitution of the mental health authority to formulate policies that are aimed at clearing the streets of mentally challenged persons.

However, a Psychiatrist with the Ajumako Government hospital, Desmond Egyir Muna has asserted that Ghanaians have a narrowed understanding of mental health.

According him, aside the men and women walking in the streets and those on admission at the various mental health facilities in the country, many more people are mentally ill, but have not been seen as such.

READ MORE: Don't put men in prison for defiling children; it's not their fault - Doctor

Mr. Desmond Egyir Muna says there are other conditions that are considered in medicine practice as mental illnesses, but those are not being given attention to. Rather, individuals who exhibit such conditions are considered criminals and put in prison.

The Psychiatrist told Pulse News that the reason why defilement for instance is on the increase and may not be curbed, is the fact that suspects are prosecuted and imprisoned, when in fact what they need is treatment at Psychiatrist Hospitals.

He explained that most men who take delight in having sexual intercourse with youngsters don’t necessarily do so out of uncontrolled libido. Rather, they are suffering from a mental condition known as Paedophilia.

“They know very well that it is a criminal offence, but they can’t help themselves. They will need a clinical psychologist to help them from that condition. It is just like somebody suffering from schizophrenia, depression or any other mental disorder.

READ ALSO: Court acquits and discharges defilement suspect

“In medicine, it is considered as one of the mental disorders, so no matter how you criminalise it, we will never end,” Desmond Egyir Muna asserted.

In Ghana, it is considered a crime to have sex with a child under 16 years. It is considered a defilement because the law says the child at that age is not grown enough to give consent to sex.

However, there is hardly any passing day without a man having been jailed for defilement. In some cases, men have sex with children as young as 3 years.

READ ALSO: Man convicted for grabbing partner’s breasts during sexual intercourse

Figures from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service indicate that, a total of 5,752 children were defiled in Ghana between 2010 and 2014, with 342 of the cases perpetrated by family members of the victims.

Desmond Egyir Muna emphasised that, defilement should be decriminalized, saying the current way of dealing with the menace is synonymous with a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ situation.

“They should not be put in prison, we can’t ever end it. The person is suffering from a mental problem, if you put him in prison for 100 years, he will come back to commit the same crime.

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