A Washington-based human rights group has accused Turkey of subjecting mental health patients to serious abuses, including electric shock treatment without anesthesia, and is urging the European Union to demand an end to the practices.
Mental Disability Rights International published the report days before Turkey is scheduled to start negotiations to join the European Union. Human rights will be included in the discussions beginning Monday.
People with mental or psychiatric disorders are "subjected to treatment practices that are tantamount to torture," the report said...
The group said electric shock therapy were "massively overused in Turkish psychiatric facilities in cases for which there is no clinically proven justification," and that they were used as a form of punishment.
"(Electric shock) without the use of anesthesia and muscle relaxants violates all internationally accepted medical standards," the report said...
The head of Bakirkoy Psychiatric Hospital, Turkey's largest mental health facility, said that 40-60 people undergo electric shock treatment at the hospital every day.
"We're carrying out (electric shock) under orders from the Health Ministry for patients who really need it," Musa Tosun told NTV television. "There are patients who cannot be given anesthesia."
Tosun said electric shock can also be used on children and even pregnant women. "(Electric shock) is harmless, it is even safer to give (it) to a pregnant woman with depression than medication," Tosun said.
The report said researchers also saw bedridden children who were unable to feed themselves and left without help.
"Investigators observed children emaciated from starvation," the report said. "Staff reported children dying from starvation and dehydration."