A justified scandal has been brewing around the revelation that Russian parents are being asked whether they have had abortions – on a federal ministry questionnaire. The document, which also requested details about families’ incomes, the details of their living conditions, as well as personal information about the child’s behavior, asked if mothers had planned their pregnancies and whether they have had abortions.
The “Passport of a Pupil’s Health,” a comprehensive questionnaire that the Russian Education and Science Ministry is planning to introduce in 2012. They have previewed it in a few schools, where it’s creating a stir among parents. The Ministry claims that the project is designed to encourage children to develop a “responsible attitude toward their health.” They added that only ten percent of graduates can be called absolutely healthy (whether this is mental or physical health and how this health is measured is unclear).
However, an NGO called the “All-Russia Teacher-Parent Meeting” has joined with parents to protest the questionnaire, saying that it violates basic civil rights and could even be dangerous. “Who and why,” they asked in a statement, “except for parents and doctors, needs information about the child’s health, his/her illnesses and sexual development?”
The project certainly does seem fishy – and it’s absolutely true that the government should not be asking parents to fill out information about their own physical health, or telling them to assess their child’s mental health. This is a serious misstep by the Russian government, and citizens and nonprofit organizations have every right to protest such an infringement of their privacy.
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