The following lines have been provoked by an interview, published on the Trud newspaper’s page on February 21st 2008, by a prosecutor from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassation – Emilia Peneva, who monitors cases of crimes against children.
The text reflects on a very dangerous but, therefore, massive tendency: to swap the responsibility. The general suggestion from the conversation between a journalist and a prosecutor is that only parents, who have entrusted their children to the state, are to blame for the condition of the children in the institutions. As it should be, the prosecutor cites a bunch of legislations, that criminalizes “leaving a child unattended and cared for”, which creates a danger to his “physical, mental and moral development”. Аs well as the torture of “… a minor or a under-age child under his or her care” [parent’s or guardian’s]. Moreover – there were legal grounds to prosecute them, but what would be the point … However, the journalist, as it should be, does not comment on the actions of the state and its commitment to provide the necessary care for children, who really have special needs.
Ms. Peneva recognizes the fact that it is too difficult to put individual cases under common denominator because of their specificity, but at the same time, blames the parents, who abandon their children without considering the wide range of circumstances that may cause it. The immediate question should be -whether it would be better for a disabled child to be raised in a family environment-, when the family is not able to provide the necessary (whether financial or medical) care. I do not think that it is necessary to go into details about the reasons that led to institutionalization of a child, but I would like to point out that only parents, who made this choice, know the cost of it. Did Ms. Peneva ask herself, what it costs these parents to leave their children? As well, the specifics of each legal case is taking into consideration, but it ignores the peculiarities of every human fate with the same definiteness.
Prosecutor Peneva firmly states that there are no specific crimes in Mogilino and immediately continues “…. but the conditions at home are outrageous…” Journalist Anna Zarkova forgets to remind that these outrageous conditions are not result from one good governance and professional childcare. Furthermore, they both seem to forget, that part of their taxes goes for social worker’s wage. Both, the prosecutor and journalist with light heart excuse them, taking the claim that there was no evidence of crimes committed.
As a positive consequence of the BBC film, it is noted that conditions in Mogilino have improved a lot. Do I have to ask why a BBC film, not a Bulgarian journalistic investigation, has caused the change? Is it necessary to take measures to remove these children from the institution only after their lives become public? Last but not least, I wonder what the concept of “removal from institutions” means. Probably the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has decided to return the children to their parents without the necessary service support and appropriate environment, or for example, they will just play with the official data by changing the name of the institution from “home” to “weekly care center”.