TUMPAT - The family that locked a mentally challenged woman in a room for more than 10 years has denied neglecting or being cruel to her.
Ismail Ibrahim, 57, who is the elder brother of Nasitah Yahya, 44, said his sister was locked up because she was suffering from chronic mental problems.
"My sister is dangerous to herself and the people around her, and she is unable to lead a normal life.
"We are worried about her safety and for others as she has the habit of wandering around if left alone.
"My sister has suffered from mental problems since she was in her teens, and is aggresive and seldom sleeps at night," Ismail said when met at the district hospital here on Saturday.
On Friday, Nasitah was rescued by police and officers from the district welfare department in Kampung Pasir Pekan Hulu following a public tip-off. She was locked in a small dark room in inhuman conditions, surrounded by her faeces and urine.
Ismail explained that Nasitah was locked in the room for her own good and that he had no choice.
He claimed that in 2010, his sister was sent to a hospital in Johor and later relocated to a private care centre in Perak that charged RM600 a month for its services.
"But we were not satisfied with the services rendered and we brought her back here,'' said Ismail.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim, however, said the family could possibly have been misguided in the way it went about protecting the victim.
"She had previously been sent to Tampoi Hospital to undergo treatment, but has not received treatment since 2011.
"But I think it could be that they caged her because they did not know how to control her.
"The investigation by the Welfare Department is still ongoing but at the same time we are going to give counselling to her family," said Rohani.