Photos of Chained-up Orphans Horrify Public

06/07/2012 – The online circulation of photographs featuring Chinese orphans chained up have caused dismay and outrage among the “netizens” and public at large.

Children with mental disabilities have suffered abuse and mistreatment in countries across the globe. In China, orphaned children with disabilities have received shocking care at one underequipped facility.

Recently, Chinese authorities suspended the director of an orphanage in the eastern part of the country after photos of mentally disabled orphans chained to furniture surfaced over the Internet.

The orphanage is located in the Cangnan county of China’s Zhejiang province. Four elderly women make up the caretaking staff, but the institution is run by a private contractor. The contractor receives government subsidies in the amount of about $110 for each child taken in. Nineteen of the 21 orphans being cared for have physical or mental disabilities.

Photos of two of the children bound to a wooden bench by metal chains, rope and a bicycle lock appeared on social media sites last month, causing a stir. The photos were posted by a visitor to the orphanage.

The boys, aged six and nine, had been confined in order “to prevent the boys from defecating uncontrollably and hurting other children,” reports the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The younger of the two boys is reported to be deaf, mute and suffer from epilepsy. The elder, nurses say, shows signs of schizophrenia and violent behaviour.

Chinese authorities will investigate any misconduct by the nurses and director. They will also improve sanitation and living conditions along with health evaluations of the children. The health checks have been volunteered by a group of doctors.

Relatedly, Cangnan county officials have already begun a process of inspecting all of the region’s welfare institutes to improve childcare and prevent further cases of abuse from occurring.

Other human rights cases have been documented and spread via the web through social media sites, such as China’s Weibo. Weibo, a Twitter-like site, now has about 300 million users, reports the UK’s Telegraph. That’s almost nine times the population of Canada.

Previously published statistics put the number of orphans living in residential facilities in China at 100,000.

Over decades past, many Chinese children with disabilities were adopted overseas in order to find proper families to care for them, though some grown children have returned to their motherland with the support of the government.