In Russia, achieving financial stability has been a challenge for people with disabilities for a long time. Approximately 13 million individuals out of an estimated population of 146 million are classified as having some degree of disability. However, in the absence of strong government action, local, volunteer and advocacy groups are taking the lead in fighting disability and poverty in Russia.
Government Benefits and Challenges
The Russian government classifies those with disabilities into three groups: Group 1 to Group 3, with Group 1 being the most severe cases. People in this group are typically unable to function without aid. On the other end of the scale is Group 3, which is for people who need only some assistance to function. The basic government benefit ranges from up to 14,948.71 rubles for people with three dependents down to just 4,982.90 rubles for those with no dependents.
Despite the improvements and official recognition of social and economic issues that children and people with disabilities face, state policies often worsen existing problems and set up disabled people for failure. A 2014 report discovered that parents abandoned nearly 30% of children with disabilities in orphanages after state officials convinced their parents that they would be unable to raise them. These children frequently suffer from neglect and mistreatment at poorly funded and under-equipped institutions.
Young people with disabilities in Russia often face numerous challenges, including limited access to education and social isolation. Without proper education and social interactions, they may struggle to engage with others and are ill-prepared to support themselves economically. Moreover, after turning 18, many are coerced into giving up their legal independence and are placed in adult institutions for the disabled. These institutions often fail to provide adequate education and support, leaving young people trapped in a system that does not prioritize their needs or interests. These challenges highlight the need for greater government action and support for people with disabilities in Russia.
Perspektiva and other advocacy groups are working to alleviate the issues surrounding disability and poverty in Russia. The groups aim to prepare young people with disabilities for future success through a variety of methods, including fun and creative exercises like sports, art and theater classes. These activities develop children both cognitively and physically while providing a platform for socialization with the wider public. Additionally, some programs focus on educational initiatives like funding for disabled children in public schools.
These organizations also support adults by offering technical job training and help with coordinating employment or housing for those who wish to live independently. Many adults who seek legal guidance, access to their legal financial benefits or protection turn to these organizations for support.
The lack of acceptance and support from the general public is a significant obstacle that disabled people in Russia face today. It presents challenges for parents raising children perceived as “different” and hinders disabled adults from realizing their full potential as economic and social equals. Despite the ongoing struggle with disability and poverty in Russia, activists and disability rights organizations are making progress through advocacy and support programs.
– Paul Phelan
Photo: Wikimedia Commons