Are four Centuries of systemic segregation coming to an end? A socio-historical analysis of custodial care with case studies on deinstitutionalisation of children with disabilities in Bulgaria and Serbia
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This study encompasses the phenomenon of institutionalisation of persons with mental disabilities in a holistic manner, from its rise to the fall as the only mainstream form of care for this group. The phenomenon of the period of “great confinement” with regards to persons with mental disorders determined the later development of custodial care systems; hence my thesis examines wrongness of the inveteracy of punitive and control oriented care that was long taken for granted. The perception of mental disorders progressed significantly after the aforementioned period; still today we are able to detect worryingly outdated approaches to mental disability as well as some features of the custodial care that were present a few centuries ago. A significant breakthrough happened with introduction of somewhat vague concept of dignity that allowed theorists and lawmakers to further develop understanding of this concept and incorporate it in international legal instruments. The position of dignity is examined with regards to realization of the rights of persons with mental disabilities and understanding the importance of autonomy as a prerequisite for dignified life. Ultimately, deinstitutionalisation is a tool by which the society loosens the control established upon the persons with mental disorders a long time ago. The case studies focus on the processes of deinstitutionalisation of children with disabilities in Bulgaria and Serbia. The Bulgaria’s experience gives appreciable insight in this process which Serbia can use to carry out a successful deinstitutionalisation of children with disabilities.