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How can this be?

Russia's tit-for-tat mentality has gone a step to far. In response to what is precieved as humiliation with the US's Magnitsky Act he has condemned the lives of thousands of Children.


After two years of studying a Masters Degree at University of London's School of African and Oriental studies, there was one phrase that summed up academia and the world it studied - How can this be?  

And this is the question that haunts me now - how can this be?  How can a leader of a country condemn its own vulnerable children because he feels that he has been slighted? To me it is unfathomable that one can use children as a pawn in a political debate? Defenceless children who have not been protected in their own homes, and thus have become wards of the state. Or should I say pawns of the state?

Is this the thinking  of a rational man?

I come from Zimbabwe and my son from Russia - so I can see where things are heading and it is scary. But even in all his craziness Bob never intentionally made children suffer. 

When questioned by journalists - one who even called the bill “cannibalistic.”  Putin's response was like that of a child who never got what he wanted for Christmas. Live on Russian television Putin demanded “You think that’s normal? What’s normal about being humiliated? You like that? What are you, a sadomasochist? The country will not be humiliated.”

The US passing of the Maginsky Act is to what Putin is refering. A bill that seeks redress for Russian officials implicated in  the death of the whistle blower Sergei Maginsky.

Woman protesting against bill

The US passing of the Maginsky Act is to what Putin is refering. A bill that seeks redress for Russian officials implicated in  the death of the whistle blower Sergei Maginsky.

I do not know all the ins and outs of the Maginsky story, but I am sure that never in  the wildest dreams of his friends and colleagues would they have thought that their seeking for justice, would result in thousands of children missing out on the opportunty to have a loving family and a chance to lead a normal life. No doubt they expected some reaction - but this?

To me it feels so emotive, so un-thought through and so damanging.  And so against the people of Russia.

Public, activists, mass media and state officials have all obejcted. There have been protests outside the Duma and  jounalists from the Novaya Gazeta newspaper delivered a petition signed by more than 100,000 people in support of quashing the adoptions ban. Any petition with more than 100 000 signatures must be considered by parliament and they have agreed to consider this - in January.  The Bill, though, goes through one final vote next week and Putin must sign it before it goes into effect, as expected, on Jan. 1.

In the words of one protester “Kids are HAPPINESS and NOT a REVENGE tool".

In the last 10 years American families have provided homes for over 45 112 children.  That is homes for roughly 12 children a day. Now what will happen to those children who would have found hope in a family? What provisions have been made for these children?

Domestic adoption in Russia is notoriously faulty.  Almost 5000 children a year are sent back to orphanges after being adopted by Russian families. There is no support and originally adoptive families were given the promise of money but this then translated into credit on schooling.

Putin is now saying that focus must be on domestic adoption - the focus should always be on domestic adoption - but with 700 000 children in institutions international adoption is a positive option.

Not withstanding the moral implications of this ban there is also the financial considerations. Hundreds of people are employed in the faciltation of adoptions. Translaters, interpreters, notaries, lawyers, support staff, drivers etc - they will loose their jobs.  And orphanages will not benefit from the gifts that adoptive parents always give in thanks for looking after their children and in support of the children left behind. Gifts that keep the institutions working and in good order. I gave my son's orphanage a new carpet, I have heard of others contributing to the building of a new wing. Without these little gestures, they will fall into disrepair and fail to provide simply the basics.

But it is the children who my heart goes out to. Orphange children are considered 'defective' and are treated as the low of the low. If they survive the institiution they are unlikely to ever integrate into society.  21% of orphange kids die before they are 21. They do not have the tools to survive as productive adults, and find themselves hungry and destitute on the streets. To survive, they take to crime and prostitution, perpetuating the deprivation trap and often falling into dispair where suicide is the only option.

Sleep on that tonight Mr Putin.


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