Children in cages: there is no end to the shame
The recent images and report by the BBC on the ‘Lechaina Medical Centre for Children’ raise, once more, questions about Greek society’s stance against people with disabilities, especially children. These images unfortunately indicate the usual poor conditions of medical centres for the disabled; reflecting the complete absence of state regard which has often been remarked upon, including by official bodies. However, no one seems to care…
The Hellenic League for Human Rights highlights that the use of cages corresponds to an outdated model of ‘care’ which relies on duress, restraint and the easy management of people with disabilities. It is the same logic that psychiatric care draws upon with its use of violence and deprivation of rights. However, children with disabilities are entitled to care which is appropriate for human beings with rights, not for animals that live in cages. In recent years, state care for people with disabilities has been constantly downscaled: relevant bodies have been abandoned, there have been staff reductions and benefits and facilities have been cut.
In this way, the ‘Lechaina cages’ are not merely a matter of mentality but are emblematic of a wider politics in welfare institutions, where there are systematic human rights violations. Not even since 2012, when Greece adopted the ‘UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ as a public Law (N. 4074/12), has anything changed. On the contrary, our country has made hardly any of the required changes. The reports in international media about the poor conditions of the Leros psychiatric hospital in the 1980s triggered reforms in psychiatric care. How many more of such reports, how many more cages, how much more inhumane treatment do we need in order to see a politics of true respect for the rights of children with disabilities?
18 November 2014
HELLENIC LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHS