The head of a Chinese children’s charity is calling for better legal protection for youngsters after local media reported the case of a six-year-old girl who suffered months of physical abuse at the hands of her mother and the woman’s boyfriend.
Two people from Fushun in northeast China’s Liaoning province have been detained in connection with the case, local authorities were quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV on Friday.
According to the report, the girl suffered multiple bone fractures and burns to large parts of her body over a period of three months between February and May this year, during which time she was also forced to eat cat food.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
Her ordeal came to an end only after staff at the hospital she had been taken to for treatment recognised the signs of abuse and suggested to her grandmother that she contact the police.
The grandmother said in the report that the child told her that the mother’s boyfriend was responsible for breaking her arm, but she had been threatened not to tell anyone.
“When a child is hurt by a parent or guardian, that is when they are least able or most afraid to fight back,” Sun Xuemei, founder of the Girls Protection Fund said in an interview.
“Although we have juvenile protection laws and children can be removed from a situation if they are thought to be in serious harm, the system needs to be improved.”
Sun, who works as a journalist, set up the Girls Protection Fund in 2013. As well as providing free courses on preventing child sexual abuse in schools, it advocates for better legislation to protect youngsters.
“When harm has occurred, it is often irreversible, so the reporting system needs to be strengthened,” she said, adding that the punishments for those who perpetrate such abuse should be increased.
Huang Simin, a lawyer with experience of child protection cases, said the girl’s mother and her boyfriend could face more than 10 years in prison if found guilty of causing intentional injury to the child.
“The severity of the punishment will certainly have some deterrent effect, but it’s not the most effective way to protect the child,” Huang said.
“The guardianship system is inadequate in China. There is a lack of oversight and there are no special institutions or establishments to protect children.”
The Fushun Women’s Federation said on social media this week that it would work with the relevant agencies to provide legal, practical and psychological support for the child, who is now back living with her father.
Chinese media reported that a campaign to raise funds for the child had collected more than 2.4 million yuan (US$360,000) as of Friday.
More from South China Morning Post:
This article Chinese woman, boyfriend detained for alleged abuse of her six-year-old daughter first appeared on South China Morning Post