Justice hope of Henan woman in mental ward ordeal

Petitioner locked in psychiatric hospital confident of winning lawsuit against police

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 July, 2013, 5:25am

A Henan petitioner who spent more than four months locked in mental hospital - where she was force-fed drugs and given shock therapy - said yesterday she was confident she would win her lawsuit against police.

Wu Chunxia said she expected the Henan Province Higher People's Court in Zhengzhou to uphold a lower court's recent ruling that Zhoukou city police had illegally institutionalised her in 2008, although she was not mentally ill.

All the evidence is clear, that I was detained and sent to a mental health institution by police. How could I take the police car all the way if it was not
Petitioner Wu Chunxia

"All the evidence is clear, that I was detained and sent to a mental health institution by police," said Wu, 39, who argued her own appeal in court on Thursday. "How could I take the police car all the way if it was not?"

The case has put the spotlight on forced confinement on the mainland and the difficulties those wrongly institutionalised face in trying to secure justice. In October, the National People's Congress passed the mainland's first mental health law, which bans most forced confinements.

Wu was intercepted by police while travelling to Beijing to petition the All-China Women's Federation for help with an abusive marriage in April 2008.

Three months later, she was plucked from her divorce hearing by police and detained for 10 days. Local authorities sentenced her to one year of "re-education through labour", a controversial system that allows police to punish petty criminals - or anyone else - without trial.

Instead, Wu was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Xinxiang , where she was treated as a paranoid schizophrenic. Doctors and nurses placed electrodes on her scalp and zapped her three times a week and forcibly fed her drugs that caused weight gain, high blood pressure and other health effects, the China Youth Daily reported.

"Once you yelled, [that would] prove that you should be deemed a mental patient," Wu told the paper.

Wu was released in December 2008 after repeatedly threatening suicide and has since vowed to reinvestigate her case. Authorities eventually revoked both her labour camp sentence and her original detention, but she continued to press her case in court.

Last June, Zhoukou's Intermediate Court ordered the psychiatric hospital and neighbourhood officials to pay more than 145,000 yuan (HK$181,000) in compensation for forcibly admitting Wu.

On May 6, People's Intermediate Court in Zhoukou ruled that the Zhoukou Police Bureau violated the law by sending Wu to a mental hospital. The police bureau filed an appeal 10 days later.