Statement about World Down Syndrome Day
On November, 10, 2011, the United Nations decided to designate 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day. For 2012, this day was dedicated to the right of education. For 2013, to the right of labour and for this current year it is devoted to the needs, rights and access of full medical services.
Unfortunately, stereotypes toward Down syndrome, a low level of awareness and non-existence of medical protocols and guiding principles in Georgia often result in inadequate medical supervision of children with Down syndrome; the risk of their abandonment is high too. Rehabilitation programs are not accessible to all individuals with Down syndrome; this problem is particularly significant in the regions. Violations of their right to education and employment are frequent as well.
According to the present legislation, the children with Down syndrome are granted with a status of the persons with disabilities from their school age. Therefore, they cannot enjoy with the social benefits for the children with disabilities.
It is important that the society understands the necessity of overcoming of existing stereotypes and stigma which results in the isolation of the persons with disabilities and also their family members. This year, the world society has selected the campaign of “Lots of Socks” as a weapon of struggle to this direction aiming to remind the society that different quantity of chromosomes is not a disease, or transmittable and this word should not be used in a degrading context. The children of the “Sun” are our friends and “Friends don’t count Chromosomes”.
The Public Defender of Georgia appeals to the government to carry out the appropriate legislative amendments to grant the children with Down Syndrome with a status of disabilities from their birth and together with civil society to undertake all necessary measures to ensure the protection of rights of persons with down syndrome in order to enable them to participate in the society on equal, valuable and effective footing with others.