Is the good Sheikh really concerned about protecting the rights of psychiatric patients or is the prevention of shocking dogmatic sensibilities more important? This report from the Arab News documents a problem that affects all societies, including Saudi Arabia’s.
The National Society for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia yesterday said it would investigate allegations of cruelty to inmates and violation of their dignity by staff of Shihar Hospital, a mental institution in Taif. Al-Watan newspaper reported yesterday that the staff of Shihar Hospital used hoses attached to water tankers in order to wash groups of naked patients without respect for their privacy or modesty.
Al-Watan published pictures of groups of naked men in showers being washed with a big hose. In the accompanying report, the newspaper said the cleaners who care for the grounds and clean the building were the ones responsible for washing the patients. Some 600 patients are herded to the showers and the cleaners then turn the hoses on them. Helpless, the victims cover their eyes with their hands in order to lessen the pressure of the water on them. “Sometimes polluted water is used and many patients have become infected with diseases,” reported Al-Watan.
Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Al-Obaikan, member of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars, condemned the acts and demanded that officials provide more supervision of such hospitals and protect the rights of the patients, especially those who need psychiatric help. “It is forbidden in Islamic law to see a man’s private parts, even when he is dead,” said Sheikh Al-Obaikan.