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UN marks first World Down Syndrome Day
UNITED NATIONS, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Wednesday marked the first ever World Down Syndrome Day in order to prevent the persons with the condition from being discriminated in the society.
"For too long, persons with Down syndrome, including children, have been left on the margins of society," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message to mark the World Day.
The UN chief's statement further expressed the long-awaited reaffirmation for all those diagnosed with Down syndrome, ensuring that all persons with the syndrome will be able to live a full life while enjoying basic human rights.
The Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. Down syndrome in a fetus can be identified through chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis during pregnancy, or in a baby at birth.
"In many countries, they continue to face stigma and discrimination as well as legal, attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their participation in their communities," Ban said.
The secretary-general noted that the discrimination can be as invidious as forced sterilization, and as subtle as segregation and isolation through both physical and social barriers.
Persons with Down syndrome are often denied the right to equal recognition before the law, as well as the right to vote or be elected.
The UN General Assembly has designated March 21 as the World Down Syndrome Day in order to raise public awareness of the syndrome. While not only being the victims of stigma,they are often denied the right to vote, attend school or participate inactivities with the rest of society.
In many cases around the world, mothers of those children diagnosed with Down Syndrome leave their children in special homes, depriving them of their freedom.
For decades the UN has worked to ensure all persons are given the rights they deserve, and in doing so, they adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006.
The Convention is intended to embody the "paradigm shift in which persons with disabilities are no longer regarded as objects of charity and welfare, but as persons with equal rights and dignity who can make an enormous contribution to society in their own right."
Meanwhile, Ban applauded the global partnership of those who gathered to bring awareness and help bring initiation to World Down Syndrome Day, saying that "let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all."