Tragic experience reveals child abuse problems
Updated: 2013-05-15 14:36
GUIYANG - With her abusive father detained after local police came to her rescue, 10-year-old Yang Xian(not her real name) finally has a sense of security.
After being transferred from a rural health center to a city hospital, the tiny child surprised doctors with the amount of physical trauma she has endured.
The girl had bruises on multiple parts of her body, as well as a scar in the corner of her mouth, according to Tang Yongtian, chief of a health center in Shitang Township, which is located in Jinsha County in Southwest China's Guizhou province.
"She suffered scalp burns and was bald when police officers brought her in," Tang recalled.
A more comprehensive exam at the Zunyi Medical University Hospital on Tuesday showed that the scalp on the top of the girl's head had been torn.
Because of the follicle damage she suffered, her hair can barely grow back. Moreover, severe malnutrition has resulted in edema in her feet, said Xiao Xue, chief of the emergency surgery department at the hospital.
Yang said her head does not hurt that much, as doctors have managed to control her scalp inflammation.
Although her other wounds have begun to heal, the girl said her feet still ache.
"All of the bruises and wounds came from my father's beatings. He often forbade me meals," said the girl.
His father Yang Shihai, who was caught assaulting her at home on May 8, was put in criminal detention on Tuesday on suspicion of intentional injury.
Li Guanming, deputy chief of the legal affairs office of the Jinsha County Police Bureau, said evidence indicates that the suspect has been abusive.
The evidence includes Yang Shihai's own confession, his daughter's statement and the testimonies of neighbors and the villagers committee, as well as a preliminary injury identification by court doctors.
Yang Shihai is known to his neighbors in the village of Goupi as a notoriously abusive father.
"He beats the girl every two or three days. We criticize him for being so cruel. He growls back 'none of your business'," said local resident Tao Wenhui.
Yang Zhihua, deputy chief of the Goupi Villagers Committee, said he was almost hit by Yang Shihai when he visited the latter's house to try and persuade him to be less abusive.
Acccording to principal Feng Zhiliang of the Longjiazhai Primary School, Yang's teachers also tried in vain to persuade the abusive father to relent.
Yang's mother, who was present during the May 8 assault, has ran away from home and has yet to be found.
Yang Shiming, elder brother of Yang Shihai, recalled that the couple had been working in cities with their daughter.
Ever since they came back three years ago, the little girl was often beaten by the father, he said.
"He didn't take our advice at all. I never informed the authorities, though. He might hit me," said Yang Shiming.
The whistle-blower for the May 8 attack was the girl's uncle Yang Zhihua.
Last October, when Yang Zhihua saw his brother purposely spill hot water on the girl's head, he reported the incident to local police.
The police took Yang Shihai to the police station, but let him go after he submitted a written statement saying that he recognized his mistake and would not repeat it.
Yang Shihai said he has repented again since being detained.
"My words are not pursuasive at all. I cannot help beating her," he said.
Born in one of China's poorest counties, Yang Shihai said he received little education and did not know how to properly educate a child.
"I've used all my energy to make money and seek a living these years. My way of educating is beating," he said.
Yang has received donations totaling more than 20,000 yuan (3,255 U.S. dollars) from the public since her abuse was exposed. The Shitang Township Health Center has offered to cover her medical bills.
The local education bureau has appointed a teacher to provide her with psychological counseling.
Lawyer Sun Zhongwei with the Beijing Sun Zhongwei Law Firm said that while the assistance she has received is valuable, her case has revealed a brutal reality regarding the protection of minors.
Under the Law on the Protection of Minors, families, schools, societies and judicial organs are jointly obligated to protect minors.
"If one of the relevant parties were more responsible, the girl could have suffered less," said Sun.
The situation would've been different if villagers were brave enough to stand up to the father or if the police would have intervened, he said.
Sun said it is wrong to take a "none of my business" attitude toward child abuse.
"Such a mindset will create tolerance for domestic violence and inflict mental and physical damage on the victims," he added.
Under existing laws, child abuse constitutes a private prosecution case that requires victims to report abuse to the police first. This is problematic for children, as they are hardly able to contact police on their own.
Dr. Hu Jiang from the Law School of the Southwest University of Political Science and Law said the inefficient protection of minors is more related to poor enforcement than inadequate legislation.
Efforts are being made to find a custodian for Yang while she recovers. The local government is considering having her grandparents take care of her using stipends given by the local civil affairs department.
When asked if he would ask for her daughter's foregiveness, Yang Shihai said "I don't know if she would forgive me. I should not beat her and scald her. I do not deserve her."