China and the revelation of chained children

The 1990s film, The Dying Rooms, created a great deal of controversy in its day, and vehement denials by the Chinese government….The film makers were lying, biased, lacked knowledge, etc etc.

It comes as no surprise to me that China’s new social media outlets have recently  carried a photo of two supposedly “disabled” children chained up in an orphanage….There are so many issues here…The exaggerated reliance on diagnoses of “disability”–lack of access by experts from outside China, the unknown state of Chinese child welfare homes, public and private….The claims that the children were chained to “protect them”….

See one of the many articles on this subject:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-07/04/c_131694917.htm

China seems to feel it has no international obligation to assess the conditions of its children living out of family care. (Although China is not alone in this–most countries feel the same way.) We are repeatedly told that there are no more “healthy infants” in Chinese orphanages and care homes–as if that were an end of the matter. With the rise of gender selective abortion, there has certainly been a significant decrease in child abandonment…But has it gone away completely? One doubts. But since no one can enter child welfare institutions and carry out objective assessments, how are we to know? And who should we believe? In this case, Chinese officials scrambled to explain that unqualified people were contracted to run this institution, but no one is telling how many such orphanages there are, how many children live in them, or exactly how they live.

It is really a tragedy and an international crime to allow this sort of treatment of children….But the root of the problem is in the secrecy. I am reminded of Sarah Ferguson’s  ill-fated visit to Turkey, where the Turkish government has worked so hard to make the story Sarah’s supposed violation of the “privacy rights” of the children, rather than the state of care within the institution.  (Same rationale, of course–the children were tied up and kept in confinement for their own protection….!) Also, it seems that invoking the term “disabled” is meant to cover all the bases–as if any kind of wretched care is fine, as long as the children are officially classified as “disabled”…..Wow!

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