A girl with autism studying at specialised school No. 103 was physically abused - Dilmurad Yusupov
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A girl with autism studying at specialised school No. 103 was physically abused

Photo: Madinabonu Ismailova / Facebook

A minor girl with autism studying at the specialised boarding school No. 103 for children with learning disabilities in Tashkent returned home on 11 December and her mother found numerous bruises on her body. The girl underwent medical treatment at the hospital No. 16. According to a Facebook user who published her photos and video “all bases covered” at the boarding school, and such reports of abuses have always been suppressed. Moreover, the abused girl is nonverbal and faces additional barriers to communicate with others.

Commissioner for the Rights of the Child (Children’s Ombudsman) Aliya Yunusova. Photo: xdp.uz

On 12 December Сhildren’s rights Ombudsman Aliya Yunusova said: “on the fact of the beating of a student of a boarding school, the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child on the morning of December 12 sent a request to the prosecutor of the city of Tashkent. I have taken this fact under control. Undoubtedly, those responsible will be held accountable.”

Today, the press-secretary of the General Prosecutor’s Office Hayot Shamsutdinov announced that on December 11, 2020, citizen K.Z. (a woman) filed a complaint with the Yashnabad District Department of Internal Affairs stating that her minor daughter with learning disabilities had come from the boarding school with bodily injuries and requested to take legal action against the perpetrators.

According to the Republican Scientific Center of Emergency Care, the minor girl was found to have bruises on the body of the right shoulder and right breast, the lower part of the right breast. At the same time, a forensic examination was ordered to determine the mechanism and severity of the injuries to the minor girl’s body. A criminal case under Article 109 (Intentional infliction of minor bodily harm) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been initiated, and the case is under further investigation.

Why are institutions harmful to children?

Article 23 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides that in any case children should not be separated from their parents based on a disability except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, following applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. However, in Uzbekistan, children with learning disabilities have no option than going to specialised boarding schools where they live and study and come home occasionally on weekends or holidays. Therefore, disabled children are deprived of care and love they should get in their families.

There are in total 86 specialised boarding schools for disabled children across the country and Article 20 “Inclusive education” was for the first time included in the new edition of the Law “On Education” in the Republic of Uzbekistan only this year. Inclusive education is at very early stages of development in Uzbekistan and would allow children to live with their families. There is also a need to develop family forms of care and provide social services and community (mahalla) level.

Specialised schools are usually closed institutions without a transparent reporting system of any forms of abuses that might take place within the institutionalised setting. Moreover, nonverbal children with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable as they may face additional barriers in reporting the cases of violence towards them.

Based on the available data of the Ministry of Public Education, about 55% of all disabled children in specialised schools are children with learning disabilities. The bad thing about specialised schools is that children with learning disabilities are educated indiscriminately; there is a lack of an individual approach to each child based on her/his learning capabilities.

Moreover, after graduating such specialised schools, children with learning disabilities don’t get a certificate of completion of studies that would enable them to continue education and be employed. I wrote about all these issues in an article for Gazeta.uz last year in October: “Our Children Are Unique, Not ‘Mentally Retarded’!” (in Russian).

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