Grim reality of Kazakhstani rehab centres for abused children24 july 2014, 17:55
Two little girls sit in an armchair and calmly look into a camera. An adult voice asks them to talk about their lives in the Center for Adaptation of Underage, a place for social adaptation and rehab of children from abusive families. And suddenly they start talking, stumbling on words in a hurry. “When we did not properly clean the floor she would make us lick it and pick up the garbage. Once (my friend) did not properly wash her t-shirt and had to lick the washbasin, (…),” one of the girls said.
They continue and give more horrendous accounts of the abuse children face in the rehab facility of South Kazakhstan Oblast. Was it a prank or a means of attracting attention? Or was it the ugly truth?
After the video, supervising authorities arrived to the center with an inspection. Vice Director of the South Kazakhstan Oblast Center for Adaptation of Underage Zhanar Karynbaeva confirmed that the center was inspected by law enforcement authorities. “The girls mentioned in the video are former foster children. In the end of May one of them was sent to an orphanage and the other one went to her parents. We are not responsible for them at the moment. No one knew about the abuse they talk about in the video. It needs to be proved. We haven't had any such cases before. Psychologists, sociologists and experienced teachers are working with children,” Karynbaeva said.
However, despite Karynbaeva’s conviction this is not the first time children are allegedly abused at the center. In April 2013, people living near the Center for Adaptation of Underage came to the doorsteps of the facility and demanded that they stop abusing the children. They told Channel 7 TV that they heard children crying and screaming at night. The residents of Shymkent sent a letter addressed to President Nazarbayev asking to stop the abuse.
Recently, Channel 31 reported that 9 y.o. Dinmukhamed Spabek was taken to the center after his mother was hospitalized. “I asked Farida-apai not to beat me. She kicked me and my leg started bleeding. Wash the floor, she said, and kept kicking me. I said I won't wash the floor because my leg and back hurt,” the boy recalled.
According to his mother, Dinmukhamed who had epilepsy was taken to a hospital afterwards. It took a month to heal his injured leg. The mother failed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office asking to investigate the matter, but has not gotten a reply yet. That is why she made a video appeal to the Prosecutor General.
Reporters from Channel 31 were able to find the author of the video with the girls from the Center for Adaptation of Underage. It happened to be one of the workers of the center, Rosa Baisarieva. Baisarieva said that though she did not usually take everything what teens said at face value, she was aware of violations in the center.
The Deputy Prosecutor of Yenbekshi District Bakhyt Seifolla said that some things the girls mentioned had found proof. But he did not elaborate what those things were exactly. Was it the part where girls were forced to endure sexual abuse from the workers and the older girls? Was it the part where they were beaten and threatened? Those questions remain unanswered.
A criminal case under the article Torture has been initiated.
At the moment, there are 27 children at the center with the oldest being 13 y.o. and the youngest being only 3 y.o.
South Kazakhstan Center for Adaptation of Underage is not the only one violating rules and mistreating children. It was found that 30 children were brought by law enforcement authorities to a similar center in Almaty illegally. Turksib District Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the situation that revealed multiple violations in the rehab center, besides the violations committed by the police. Besides all else, the center is housed in an old building lacking necessary facilities. The counseling and teaching methods, too, are outdated and do not respond to the needs of abused children, Zakon.kz reported.
The grim reality of Kazakhstan’s Centers for Adaptation of Underage startles with adults’ inhumanity and cruelty towards abused children. But what is more horrifying is the look on the faces of the children when they casually talk about being abused. It seems it became a normality or even an everyday routine for them.
So where do we go now from here?
By Gyuzel Kamalova (additional reporting by Roza Yessenkulova)