If you thought discrimination against the disabled was just a Russian thing…


I was interested and horrified to find from one of my friends who is now reading the book that discrimination against children who are born disabled was by no way means limited to the Soviet Union.

He was born in 1958 with spina bifida. His mother was told not to get too attached to ‘this one’ and go and have another. She was told that he was going to die soon, and that he didn’t he would be a ‘cabbage’ and unable to walk or talk.

He went on to have a successful career as a civil servant.

In a very ‘the less you know the sounder you sleep’ way, doctors never told his mum what was wrong with him. In fact he never worked out what the problem was until he watched a TV programme about spina bifida when he was 15!

He only avoided being sent to a ‘special’ school for the disabled because he learnt to climb stairs. His tough and loving Mum carried him back to the top every time he crawled or bumped down them until he could walk down them all by himself.

He says that friends his age in the spina bifida community, recall having the same experience as Masha and Dasha – being laid out naked on a table or being asked to ‘perform’ for the doctor and his students.

In fact some of them were packed off to institutions in Britain as late as the 1970’s.

They’ve all suffered some sort of mockery, bullying and discrimination, which sadly still seems to be a part of everyday life for the disabled.

Wherever you live.

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