Just two months ago, the Center organized a press conference to tell the public – through the media of course – that no deinstitutionalization was taking place in Bulgaria. The interest in the subject was then weak. A few days ago, the broadcast was blown up by another case of violence against a disabled child in Shumen. The Minister of Social Policy – Zornitsa Rusinova – though new, reacted in the old way, namely to protect the social workers and the institution, which for us as citizens and human rights defenders was extremely inadequate and inhumane.
The purpose of today’s press conference is to show that the arbitrariness to which people with disabilities are subject is the result of the same mechanism that leads to arbitrariness and abuse of children in educational and social institutions. The Center for Independent Living is in solidarity with the children victims of violence, we sympathize with their loved ones and their parents when there are such and try to protect the children.
We realize that the lives of people with disabilities are not particularly appealing to the public and the media, until a brave person makes a public case of extreme violence. The daily humiliation, unworthy living, segregation and social backwardness of people with disabilities remain out of sight of people. Too many are suffering from the humiliation exercised by self-imposed rulers in social institutions, inhabited by defenseless, physically dependent people, victims of lasting social neglect.
The reasons for this are the same as those who run the WHO model – financial and business circles that take over the state in their own interest. In our case, we have a system of social institutions with the character of orphanages that practice and promote social exclusion with the active support of the state – laws, funding and impressive uncontrollability. They educate each other, self-teach at universities, downplay any experience of social development as a goal and practice of social policies, and by strange logic never become the object of systemic criticism. It is revealing how the formative role of education is emphasized, but it misses the even more powerful shaping force of social policies, which in our country are reduced to social assistance through formal – depersonalizing – indicators and shelter – depersonalizing – care.
The social workers – the main actors in institutional care – do not have the identity of a supportive profession in which they are independent, competent and highly responsible for the development of the people they care for. They are designed to serve first and foremost the interests of the system and its structures; neither they nor organizations outside the system are effective advocates of the rights of the users who use the services of the system.
These elements of the mechanism – the almighty state, the manageable “intelligentsia”, the non-governmental organizations and the local authorities – are activated synchronously every time the social change is provoked from outside and the means for its realization are external and many. Bringing them together is intended solely to preserve the status quo with its elites and to absorb the money so that the weak remain weak, and the strong can strengthen their power. This leads to the mimicry of “social homes” in “community-based services”, where nothing of the comfort culture is forgotten and nothing of the culture of independent living is learned.
Public scandals, which are a subject of the public attention through the media, reinforce this picture and prove the “effectiveness” of the above technology, revealing the defenselessness of the most vulnerable among the vulnerable, which should be a priority for a country’s social system. The systematic misappropriation and abuse of disabled children without parents is a logical regularity in the mechanism whereby the right is on the side of the stronger, the one who holds the power.