In some of the most war-ravaged countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, severely mentally disabled men and women are shackled and locked away for years on end. This photograph of a young man chained to the floor of Juba Central Prison in Sudan (now South Sudan) is featured on the cover of Robin Hammond’s book, “Condemned.” January 2011 photo by Robin Hammond/Panos
This series of photographs, published in a book called Condemned by photographer Robin Hammond, has been on my mind for days.
In war-ravaged countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, severely mentally disabled men and women – even children – are chained and locked away for years on end. Mental illness is a neglected issue everywhere – and it is horrific to think about how people are suffering. Many of these people – probably the majority – are undiagnosed and receive little or no treatment.
This is what the photographer had to say about his project:
“I’ve spent my career documenting human rights issues but I’ve never come across a more neglected or vulnerable group than the mentally disabled in African countries that are in, or recovering from, crises.”
These images break my heart. Wouldn’t it be amazing if people living with mental illness could experience the same kind of respect, compassion and access to treatment as people living with any other illnesses?