Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hundreds of children with disabilities die in Bulgarian state facilities

Massive trigger warning for description of neglect and abuse.

A recent report revealed that 238 children with mental and intellectual disabilities were killed by neglect.while in the care of government institutions in Bulgaria over the last ten years. This epidemic of death and abuse is evidence of how the kyriarchy devalues of young and disabled lives through ableism and ageism, both in Bulgaria and the rest of the world.

These 238 now-dead child humans suffered horrific abuse and neglect through a terrible variety of instruments. 23 of Bulgaria's 26 state-run homes (currently housing 1,350 children) were implicated. Thousands other certainly suffered abuse untold, but some gruesome reports have been recorded.

134 children were starved.
31 children out of those 134 children died.
17 children were not allowed to move; their caregivers tied to them wheelchairs and beds.
90 children were not allowed to move through chemical restraints and tranquillizing drugs.
81 children died of unspecified neglect.
6 children died of freezing and drowning.
36 children died of pneumonia.
13 children died from poor hygiene.
84 children died of exhaustion.
11 children died because they were taken to the hospital, but too late.
149 children died because they were not taken to the hospital at all.
27 children were raped.
2 children died because of direct physical violence.
15 children died for no immediately apparent reason.

And these are only the recorded cases of abuse, the recorded rapes, the recorded deaths. There are surely many more children dead and wounded by these institutions who were just not noticed.

This inspection was conducted by the Bulgaria Helsinki Commission, a non-governmental human rights watchdog organization. “These children don’t die because of their disabilities - they die of things that no one should die of,” said Margarita Ilieva, head of BHC's legal department. "What we are aiming at is not retribution. We need prevention."


There's never a whole lot to say about these cases.

My list organization above seems overly grim, but this is the grimmest thing I've read in some time. Bulgaria has targeted people marginalized by age and disability, decimating the children in its care. The individual caretakers, the directors of these institutions, and the government as a whole are responsible for horrible abuse. And they are very far from unique, very far from alone in the international community. My own government is responsible for permitting acts of abuse, rape, violence, and death not unlike what I detail above.

Ableism and ageism are lethal forces enforced by government institutions. I have no theory to back up or expand on that except that hundreds of children are dead because they had disabilities.

sources: 1 2 3 4 5


  1. Thank you for bringing this horror to our attention. It needs to be known, spread...and hopefully not repeated.

  2. If you think that is disturbing, then you should be disturbed by the fact that this happens every day in our own country. Disability is not a death sentence, and often with the proper supports and assistance, a person with an intellectual and/or developmental disability can become a vital, active community member for pennies on the dollar to what it costs to keep these people sequestered away in institutions, large group homes, and work facilities.

    In 2009 a University of Wisconsin hospital denied antibiotics to two adults with developmental disabilities for PNEUMONIA, citing that their medical treatment for this entirely treatable infection was "futile" due to the person's supposedly obvious poor quality of life (which also brings up the question/issue- who the hell are you to judge what is/isn't a high quality of life? How do you know what's inside the head of a person with ID/DD? You don't. Plain and simple.) and one of the patients died.

  3. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. In your research, did you see anything about any organizations we could join or actions we could take to speak out against these abuses? If not, and you come upon anything like that in the future, I'd be very appreciative if you'd post the info here in the comments section or on your blog. Thanks very much for your time!

  4. Hi Li! The website for the commission responsible for this report is but it's not working right now (as it wasn't when I posted). I would keep checking there.

  5. Thanks RMJ! That was really helpful - the website you linked leads us to the site for the investigation into all of Bulgaria's children's homes. If your readers want, they can take action and send an email saying that they support the investigation and/or that they'd like to be kept informed as to the results of the investigation and what is being done to help the children recover.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin