What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of children with disabilities? Or anyone for that matter with a disability? Do you wonder who takes care of them if they need it? Or if they’re able to obtain jobs just like you or I would? Everyday people with various types of disabilities are discriminated against, and sometimes we may not even know that we’re discriminating against them. However, it’s a completely different story in Russia. There, if you’re born with a disability you do not have the opportunity to receive the type of care one would normally think of them receiving here in the US or even Europe.
Imagine you find out your newborn son or daughter has down syndrome, are deaf, or another disability they could be born with. Imagine, now, being told by your doctor (s) that you need to give up that child because of “their problem,” simply because they won’t be “able to live normal lives” or “talk until they’re 30 something years old.” Imagine having to listen to a medical professional tell you straight up lies by claiming your child is better off in an orphanage?
According to Human Rights Watch, nearly 30% of disabled children in Russia live apart from their families and loved ones in institutions where they “receive proper care.” This so-called proper care within these institutions consists of abuses and neglect that may affect these children on physical, intellectual, and emotional growth. Children with disabilities in Russia account for 2 to 5% of Russia’s child population. In total, 45% of these children are in said institutions.
Children who have lived within these institutions have reported how they were violently beaten, restrained to furniture, and even given sedatives to control any type of behavior that the staff deemed “undesirable.” Now, I do know that there are disabilities out there that do actually require sedatives to be taken at a certain point. However, that’s not what is happening here.
Though a child may be disabled, it does not mean that they are incapable of learning the same things and activities as other children. It may just occasionally take some time and a slower process for them to do so, but it does not mean they are incapable of such things. Unfortunately, these Russian children are not typically allowed to socialize or play with other children, nor are they allowed to see their families. Even their right to education is taken from them.
These children’s “conditions” are not being aided in any way whatsoever. In fact, children with disabilities who are not able to walk or talk as much are put into “lying down rooms” where they will remain their whole lives. Some of the videos I watched these children were fed through tubes and curled into small balls where they remained in that position even at the age of 25 years old.
Want me to add to this already horrid sadness and cruelty? It’s estimated that the majority of these children (more or less “locked up”) have at least one leaving relative. AT LEAST ONE! Yet, according to the Russian government, these relatives are not able to provide as much proper care as they (the parents, guardians, etc) possibly could. Human Rights Watch reported that these medical staff falsely told these parents and family members that their children would never be able to develop emotionally or intellectually enough, and would ” ‘be a burden on the parents.’ ” On top of this, you now have some of those in Russia who are suggesting that parents be given the option of “post-natal abortion.” (I will admit here I am all for pro-choice when it comes to abortion, however post-natal abortion would be the equivalent of putting your child down like a sick animal AFTER it’s been born).
Here is one mother’s story and fight on that matter:
Here is the video from Human Rights Watch on the children who face such violence. I have seen and heard a lot of cruel, cruel things in my life, but nothing gets to me like seeing children be so discriminated against just because some of them may be deaf or have an extra chromosome.
Here’s a source if you would like to look into further more detailed information on this issue. I could type for days and days on such a topic, yet I am probably going to come back to this a later date as a follow up.