Just a couple of weeks ago, the 53rd Legislature passed a law that will protect mentally ill individuals and women like Tutu Girl who became mentally ill after she allegedly lost her two children a few years back.
Men, women and children with mental disabilities stemming from chemical imbalances in the brain, traumatic experiences, medical conditions, abuse, drugs, with the passing of the law, will no longer have to worry about discrimination, stigmatization, marginalization based on their ‘mental or intellectual disabilities’ stated the Observer Newspaper in a recent article.
The Public Health Law, Title 33, and Liberian Code of Laws Revised, which added Part VIII, Health and Related Rights, Chapter 2, Mental Health was amended to give those considered to be ‘incompetent’ the rights to be treated fairly and given help when their battle with mental illness becomes a threat to their wellbeing.
The law to protect will further enable entities such as privately funded organizations to find help in getting women like Tutu Girl off the streets.
“That has been one of the challenges in finding help including common things such as transportation and medical care to help the mentally disabled living on the streets. When you want to help them and find them shelter, cabs and hospitals deny them because of fear they might harm someone, or dirty their places,” added Martin, CEO of READ Liberia.
“Nowadays, it looks like all the mentally disabled are either on the street walking naked or locked up in rooms with doors that are locked on them. This has to stop; and with this law in place, we can start to defend some of the homeless ones.”
A few years back, Tutu Girl was the victim of a violent eviction that also saw scores of men and women raided in a building along Snapper Hill. The house was later broken down.
She became the center of attention when people started seeing the mother sitting along the streets with her infant child “waiting for my eight year old son,” who was not present when during the raid.
Tutu Girl sat along Broad and Johnson Streets for weeks, believing that one day her son would come back looking for her.
Then one day her other baby vanished, but still she sat waiting, no longer able to answer any questions that people asked as everyone watched her gradually fade away.
Years later, she seems mentally challenged, is homeless and without proper care. Tutu Girl needs urgent help from a community that people are sure contributed to her mental breakdown.
“They took her children from her one by one while she sat on the ground and watched,” a telecommunications worker added.