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Repost:Children of the half moon:mentally challenged women,their lives,kids

mad-woman-kid

Hobbled by insanity, discriminated against by society, mentally ill women already are in an unfortunate situation. But despite their unfortunate predicament, many of them got impregnated by some faceless persons, DAMOLA ADEOYE investigates the intriguing situations of mad women and their children.

 
 

DRESSED in a flowing black gown soiled with use, and with a dirty foot, ostensibly from walking long distances, and carrying a heavy sack on her head, she mumbled unintelligible words. Few meters away, her son, who couldn’t be more than eight years old, clad in a school uniform, dirty feet and munching away his biscuit, sauntered steadily after her.

That is Iya Fawaz, a mentally challenged woman.

“She isn’t violent. She goes on her own without disturbing anyone. If not for her appearance, you wouldn’t know she’s mentally unfit,” observed Bimbo Adigun, a resident of Sanyo.

Piqued by the woman and her son’s case, Sunday Tribune sought out the boy’s school; a public primary school located in the neighbourhood. Speaking under strict condition of anonymity, the school’s head gave an insight into Fawaz’s world. “I met him here, when I arrived three years ago. Concerned by his plight, I visited their home, not far from here. There I met an elderly man, who disclosed the family’s frustration with the woman’s case. More or less, they have given up on her situation,” the head teacher said.

“He’s in primary two having started from the Nursery classes and not for once did he come late. Despite the mum’s mental health, she drops off the boy as early as 6:30a.m., pays the nearby food vendor N60 or N70 to serve the boy breakfast and is the first to return few minutes to 1p.m to pick him in the afternoon. She would sit under the tree, waiting for him to be done.”

When asked how the woman relates with her son’s teachers, the head teacher said: “she doesn’t fight anyone. She’s often calm. The only problem we’ve observed is that during the end of the month, she raves. Maybe that’s when her health deteriorates, no one can tell. Then, she may start shouting that she wants to take her son home when it’s not yet closing time. But once she sees me, she would say oga, e kuu’se ooo (well-done) and then calm down. Save for those monthly episodes, she doesn’t trouble us.

“The boy is an average student. Though doing assignments may be a bit impossible for him, because of his mother’s challenge, his teachers ensure they monitor him in class. He’s not a boy to be written off. People from reasonable backgrounds have problems, let alone someone like that,” maintained the head teacher.

Speaking further, the head teacher said: “All the kids play together; they don’t discriminate against him. In fact, during break time, you find them playing together. Save for when he has rashes, perhaps, because of poor nutrition, which may be the only time they might have issues playing with him. Aside that, they all play together. When his mum comes to pick him, they shout his name to call his attention, since he may have been lost in the world of play.”

The head teacher has nothing but words of praises for his teachers, who, according to him treat the boy nicely just like their own.

“There were instances when they brought clothes for him. Some even went as far as helping him wash the ones on him, sun drying them, before returning them to him. When he had rashes, some of our teachers took him to the primary health care centre nearby to get treated.  Though there were attempts by some of them to take the boy to the state welfare authority, the move was flatly rebuffed by the woman’s family, albeit out of ignorance,” the head teacher told Sunday Tribune.

This reporter, out of curiosity, decided to see the boy in class. Standing by the window, in company with the head teacher, a peaceful teaching and learning atmosphere could be observed. Fawaz was seated huddled in the midst of other classmates.

“Now you can see for yourself. You wouldn’t even know he has such a background,” volunteered the head teacher.

The story of Fawaz and his mother, no doubt, illustrates the rising cases of mentally challenged [and/or even with raving mad] women with underaged children, many of whom were fathered by anonymous persons.

Although some family members of Iya Fawaz who chose to speak with Sunday Tribune refused to disclose she got pregnant, hers would not be the first case.

Like Iya Fawaz, there are other mentally challenged women roaming the streets either with their children or in different stages of pregnancy. Many of these women, even sometimes, had had to undergo the process of labour on their own. In a recent report published in a national daily, Amudalatu, a mentally challenged woman went into labour and self-delivered a baby girl as residents of Badejo Kalesanwo, Oduduwa Community in the Mushin Area of Lagos watched in awe. To them, the woman’s case remains a mystery. A resident said Amudalatu delivered the baby by the dumping ground on the newly-tarred road.

Somewhere in Ibadan too, a Catholic Mission, Eternal Father House of Divine Mercy, sometime last year celebrated the christening of a set of twins delivered by a mad woman, Halimat-Sadia Oriola. While the first twin was named Taiwo, Mary, IniMaria, the second was christened Kehinde, Martha, Odunola, at a well attended ceremony which attracted members of the mission, the woman’s family members, police officers from the police clinic where she was cared for after delivery as well as other well wishers. The mother, Halimat, was reported to have been elated at the arrival of her ‘bundles of joy’. Surprisingly, she personally named the kids Oluwatobi and Oluwatimilehin.

Impregnating insane women: who does that?

The jury is still out as to what the attraction to have sexual relations with an insane woman could be. Though High Priest Ifayemi Elebuibon, Araba Awo of Osogbo contends that no Ifa corpus prescribes sex with a mad woman for one to get rich, Mr. Olusola Alabi Akekaaka, a traditionalist with over 25 years experience in the care of the mentally ill based in Ayete, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, believes people still do so no matter what.

“The world has really gone bad. People now impregnate mad women for ritual purposes. It is their defective brain that they want to use. There is no doubting it; people use it. The fluids- (seminal and vaginal) from the sexual intercourse would be collected and used. Though they don’t intend to kill the woman, they would undoubtedly have ‘collected’ her glory. It is her insanity spirit that they’ll use.”

Away from the ritual theory, Dr. Ndidi Ofole, a developmental psychologist from the Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ibadan, maintains that varying sexual orientation could be a factor motivating sex with lunatics.

“There are different sexual orientations. By sexual orientation we mean the way an individual derives his or her sexual pleasure. Some people’s sexual orientation is in dating and sleeping with dirty and unkempt women. That they believe gives them pleasure.”

Speaking further she said, “Just like the trend in sexuality now is homosexuality, gay and lesbianism, you’ll then begin to wonder why a man out of millions of beautiful women available would find fulfillment in sleeping with a fellow man. That really could be explained in terms of sexual orientation.”

Dr. Timothy Adebowale, Consultant psychiatrist and director, clinical services at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital Aro, Abeokuta, on his part, believes it is both a failure of society as well as a gross demonstration of insensitivity on the part of Nigerians.

“When the woman, because of her mental health, is impregnated, then she has been taken advantaged off. The question then is who is more ill? The one who sexually assaulted a naked, mentally ill woman or the woman herself? The woman’s pregnancy is an abuse.”

A rather funny twist, however, is the one raised by Chief Olaide Ojebode Ifadare, Baba Ijo Orunmila Agbanila, at Igboora, Ibarapa Central Local Government Area of Oyo State. Speaking to Sunday Tribune in his Igboora residence, the Ifa priest said, the insane too, sometimes, fall in love with one another and even engage in sex. So it may not be out of place for the insane man to impregnate the insane woman.

“Sometime last year, a particular incident happened to prove that point. Between Eruwa and Ido, there is this mad woman. If we go further too, there is another mad man.

“Around July last year, we were returning from Ibadan, we met them having an altercation. From afar, we felt it was two normal people fighting in the street, until we moved closer to discover they were insane lovers having a duel. The woman asked: ‘is it every day, don’t you get tired?” The man replied, “my own hasn’t affected me to the level I’ll be unable to have sexual relations with my woman, or which man do you think can be interested in sex with you?’”

Insanity, a debilitating havoc

If the cases of the mentally ill impregnated on the streets reeks of evil and are of serious concern, then the causes of insanity deserve investigation. Sunday Tribune’s checks from those knowledgeable revealed there are a plethora of causes implicated for mental imbalance. While many cited genetic, psychological and social factors, some argue that a traditional point of view is worth considering.

“There are so many factors that could lead an individual to go insane, particularly here in Nigeria and especially in Yorubaland. There are local traditions, whereby one can be attacked spiritually. It could be hereditary or caused by one problem or the other,” said Brother Adeola, a Catholic missioner, who heads Eternal Father House of Divine Mercy, a non-governmental organisation committed to the care of destitute.

Mr. Alabi on his part holds the belief that evil forces may cause a person to run mad, a view Chief Elebuibon corroborates, adding, however, that for curses to work efficiently, the petitioner must present a deluge of offences the fellow in question has committed. Once that has been established, the curse works like magic.

Any hope for children of mad women?

The case of Fawaz and many other kids birthed by insane women raises lots of questions that agitate the mind. Having established that mental illness has a strong genetic predisposition, the fear that such kids may eventually end up like their moms is clearly evident.

Dr. Adebowale holds the view that the risk such babies face, more often than not, may not really be related to their mother’s mental health but more to their circumstances of birth.

“When the woman becomes pregnant, obviously due to poor nutrition, poor ante-natal care, delivery in the filth of the street, that child is in danger of poor ante-natal condition, no care, no supplement and unsupervised delivery.”

Adeyinka Adefemi, a psychologist, also admits children birthed by insane mothers do suffer from developmental setbacks, physical and emotional abuse and a tendency to be schizophrenic themselves.

As bleak as the future looks for this set of kids, all hope really isn’t lost. Dr. Ofole argues that though 40 per cent of mental illness is genetically predisposed, the remaining 60 per cent is strong enough as to prevent a kid birthed by a mad woman from going his mother’s way. “If the individual has a genetic predisposition to running insane and the environment doesn’t present it, then the madness won’t be stimulated,” she opined.

The consensus among the trio of Elebuibon, Alabi and Ifadare is that it isn’t in all cases that children born by insane mothers go mad, after all. With proper care, they added, the child should turn out fine. That same view was corroborated by Bro. Adeola who maintained that of all the kids his Mission has so far rescued, none has showed signs of mental imbalance. In his words; “with our little experience in this work, most of the children we care for grow up to be normal children. Most of them are now in primary school, secondary school and are doing pretty well in school with no symptoms of insanity whatsoever.”

‘Every woman has mother instincts’

Perhaps one rather confounding point is that despite the mental state of these women, they still cater for their kids just like as the average mother.. As in the case of Iya Fawaz, many of these mentally deranged women have shown that they too could be good mothers like their sane counterparts.

According to Dr Adebowale, “her mental health notwithstanding, every woman has a mothering instinct and would be protective of her child. Though she gives the child all the dirt she’s taking too, she’ll still remain protective of him or her.

“It has been found out that the mentally ill cling tightly to whatever is theirs. There are instances when we take patients on the street for treatment, any luggage they have, you cannot take it away from them. Even when they are in the hospital, they continue to ask for it even when all there is in it is rubbish.”

Dr. Ofole agrees too, adding that the relationship could be explained using the attachment theory. “The bonding between the mother and the child whether insane or not isn’t only physical or placenta attachment, it is emotional,” she stated.

Chief Elebuibon views maternal affection as a necessity traceable to blood. He said; “blood is thicker than water, especially for those whose mental imbalance hasn’t greatly affected the brain; such a fellow would recognise their children. When I was young, living with my mother, a particular mad woman used broken bottles to inscribe facial marks on her child’s cheeks.”

Western treatment, African cure

A visible area of disagreement between psychiatrists and traditionalists is in whether or not there exists a lasting cure for severe mental health challenges in the long run. Dr. Adebowale maintains they can only be treated but not cured since they aren’t infections. “They aren’t infections; it isn’t malaria or typhoid that you say you want to cure. These are chronic medical conditions that need to be managed.”

His submission was, however, countered by traditionalists who argue there is a standard cure that has worked over the ages and is still working. Chief Elebuibon argues that there are traditional healers whose major occupation is the treatment and cure of mentally ill persons. “In fact, having cured many of their patients, they take some of them as wives,” he added.

When reminded of the local parlance that mental illness can’t be permanently cured, Chief Elebuibon contends it is due to perception and not that a cure doesn’t exist. “If the fellow talks too much, people will claim that the insanity is back and if he or she keeps quiet, people’ll still claim he or she has suffered a relapse. So, it is more of a perception problem,” he said.

Mr. Alabi and Chief Ifadare admit that since they started the trade of curing mentally deranged persons, it has been one success story all the way. Mr Alabi, when asked if local remedies existed for the cure of insanity beamed: “Confirmed! I can even describe one who has been cured. She goes by the name Iyabo. She stays in Lagos. If I call her mom’s number now, she’ll answer. Her insanity had gotten to a point that she no longer slept at home again, she walked about town. She was brought to me and to the glory of God, she was healed. There are confirmed local remedies ooo; don’t mind those literate people.”

“That there are no local remedies is a big lie. Even those at Aro, what do they use? There is a herb called Olonraye, if we do the necessary things, and mix it with hot pap, it is only when the fellow is hungry that he or she will wake up; he/she will sleep until hunger wakes him/her. There is the liquid version; in fact, that is what the physicians mix with certain chemicals that they give their patients. There is one herbal concoction prepared with Ojiji (electric fish). We’re the ones who treat them most; neurologists and psychiatrists are only lying,” he boasted.

Chief Ifadare, on his part, said, “I began the treatment of mad people in 2001. It got to a point that any case that appeared difficult at Aro would be transferred to me. Without even checking my books, I can name no fewer than seven people I’ve cured of insanity; those whose cases were somewhat hopeless then. I did that for over eight years and to the glory of God, all the cases were successful.” 

Dr. Ofole on her part maintains that the new shift in the care of mental illnesses is bio-psychosocial. “Though treatment can be at medical level, you don’t hang the person’s hope of survival on medical treatment alone. Treatment is biological, psychological and social. Psychological relates to the warmth, acceptance, reception and so on while sociological is involved with changing policies as well as issues around the society that stimulate mental disorder,” she added.

Whether for or against, however, the unassailable fact remains that insanity is a serious problem that requires immediate action. The maternal instincts demonstrated by mentally deranged women go a long way in showing that a woman remains a mother, irrespective of her mental state. Society, therefore, needs to find a solution fast to halt the menace of insane women getting impregnated on the streets. Though they may be women with maternal instincts, the question begging for answer is, are they in the right frame of mind to nurture these kids?

‘Men who impregnate mad women are evil’ 
Rosario Adeola heads Eternal Father House of Divine Mercy, an NGO committed to the welfare of destitute. His mission recently christened a set of twins delivered by a mad woman. He speaks on the incidence of sane men impregnating mad women.

HOW did you meet Halimat Oriola, the mentally ill woman who delivered a set of twins?

She isn’t the only one. There are so many we’ve cared for. Even as you were coming to our compound, you saw one outside. It was last year, January 13th to be precise. We were called by the police at Challenge, Ibadan that a mentally ill woman delivered a set of twins. We were there and we saw that she had delivered a set of twins- both girls. We took her to the hospital for assistance.

After she left the hospital, we brought her home. Ever since then, the babies have been in our custody. At present, she receives her psychiatric care in Ibadan and she’s getting better. Recently, the babies celebrated their first birthday here.

If we agree insanity can be hereditary, how are we then sure children birthed by insane mothers won’t end up like their moms?

With our little experience in this work, most of the children we care for here grow up to be normal children. Most of them are now in primary school, secondary school and are doing pretty well in school with no symptoms of insanity whatsoever.

How do you explain the affection between these women, especially those who are nursing mothers and their children?

Our doctors advise that when they deliver like that, we shouldn’t allow them breastfeed, maybe because of infections or persistent symptoms of mental illness. However, there are few who have breastfed and the babies have grown well.

Have there been men who actually claimed paternity of such babies?

Yes, there was a case I experienced last year. A mentally ill woman delivered along Orita-Challenge. We were called upon. When we got there, we saw her. When they deliver like that, it is difficult for people to come around to take their babies.

After delivery, people couldn’t go near the woman, with the blood and the placenta, she backed the baby and started going on and on. We followed her down to the Lagos expressway. Eventually we reached her, took her and the baby to the hospital. The baby had six fingers and was operated on. The woman herself was taken for psychiatric treatment.

Few days afterwards, after taking her drugs, I think she became somewhat better. She disappeared from the hospital only to re-appear with a man who claimed responsibility for the pregnancy. After due investigation, we found out that the man was truly responsible.

In fact, we met the mad woman’s mother who told us the man was her daughter’s husband and that he knew her condition before marrying her. When we spoke with the man, we found out he was married with nine kids already. His own case isn’t that of rituals. He did it willingly. The baby was promptly released to him.

There are instances when people impregnate these women for ritual purposes. What is your take on this?

That is our societal belief here in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. I’ll like to passionately appeal to men who engage in such acts to stop for the sake of humanity and God. There are certain things humans do that bring down the wrath of God to the society, same as there are those that brings His mercy too. Things like this, I think, are part of those affecting our society negatively.

Do you think God will be happy seeing a mentally ill woman; suffering already, now carrying about pregnancy around town? Do you think God will be happy in heaven?  These are evil acts manifest

Culled from:Tribune online

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