Contextualising Legal Capacity and Supported Decision Making in the Global South Experiences: of Homeless Women with Mental Health Issues from Chennai, India

Peer-reviewed article
(2021 Aug) Mental Health, Legal Capacity, and Human Rights, Chapter 7 109-123


Ravi, Mrinalini, Barbara Regeer, Archana Padmakar, Vandana Gopikumar, and Joske Bunders


Persons with mental health issues are among the most under-represented populations in rights discourse, and more so those from the Global South, who have been further subjugated by the intersections of poverty, patriarchy, and systemic isolation wrought by colonial and outmoded psychiatric treatments. The issue is worse still for women with mental illness in the Global South, many of whom are driven to the extreme margins, including but not limited to chronic homelessness. Through an enquiry into the lives of these women, and their experiences of exclusion, homelessness, and involuntary commitment, this chapter aims to deconstruct traditionally accepted notions of human rights and recalibrate a service paradigm that can mould itself to fit the diverse needs of an ultra-vulnerable population over a strong foundation of liberty, access to choice, and commitment to diversity. The study is set in The Banyan, a Chennai (India)-based not-for-profit organisation, focussed on humanitarian, equity, and justice-centric responses to the needs of homeless women with mental health issues.