Nazish is one of 1700 women living in Asia’s largest asylum in Karachi, Pakistan – a place that is not just for mentally ill women, but also a dumping ground for the city’s unwanted, inconvenient females. For 12 years Nazish has been confined to these four walls, and her plight is sadly only growing more common.
Originally built to house 400 patients, this asylum now contains up to 1700 women. Many are seeking refuge from the dangers of the outside world, escaping domestic abuse and exploitation. Others have simply been forgotten or abandoned by society due to their mental health issues.
As social prejudices and financial constraints prevent many of these women from receiving proper treatment and support, they are instead left forgotten behind the asylum walls with little hope of ever leaving. Nazish’s story offers an insight into the lives of these unfortunate individuals – no longer forgotten but valued members of society – and highlights the urgent need for better mental health services in Pakistan.
The BBC documentary ‘Women Beyond Walls’ sheds light on this real-life tragedy and reveals the reality behind closed doors for these women living in limbo inside Asia’s largest asylum. Through interviews with staff at the facility as well as patients themselves, we embark on an emotional journey to explore their past – and future – struggles and dreams.
We urge you all to watch ‘Women Beyond Walls’, available on BBC Three now – it will provide us with an eye-opening glimpse into a largely overlooked issue and leave us asking why so little has been done to help these women trapped inside the same four walls for 12 years?