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Death prompts calls against child abuse

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-08 07:59

Father accused of killing 4-year-old daughter

In the latest case of alleged child abuse by a parent, a 4-year-old girl was fatally suffocated by her father because she reportedly would not stop crying.

The alleged crime occurred in Shanghai's Baoshan district on Wednesday. The youngster's father was said by police to have the family name Hu.

It is the most recently reported incident of a series of deaths and injuries allegedly caused by abusive parents across China and has prompted legal experts to call for laws and intervention institutions to be created to protect minors from violent relatives.

According to police, the girl, the only daughter of the parents from Jiangxi province, suffered other physical injuries to her body.

Under interrogation, the father reportedly confessed to taping gauze around the girl's mouth and striking her several times with his fist to keep her from crying on Tuesday night. The girl's mother was looking on as the abuse took place.

On Wednesday morning the parents found the girl had lost consciousness and rushed her to a nearby hospital.

Footage recorded by the hospital's surveillance camera showed the man rushing into an emergency room, carrying the girl in his arms.

After 20 minutes of emergency treatment, the girl was pronounced dead. Footage showed the girl's father stood beside the girl's body in the room while her mother squatted nearby. Both reportedly displayed great sorrow.

Doctors did not believe the parents' explanation that the injuries on the girl's body were self-inflicted and alerted police. The father was detained and the case is under investigation.

Three weeks earlier, a 3-year-old girl in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, suffered a fractured skull after her father allegedly hit her while in a taxi and later tossed her out of the window while the vehicle was still moving.

The man, named Gan and aged in his 30s, reportedly jumped out of the car to continue the attack. After seeing the taxi driver was about to alert the police, he allegedly attempted to escape the scene but was hit by a passing vehicle and killed.

The cause of his alleged violence is unknown.

The girl is said to be recovering from her injuries.

According to Zhang Wenjuan, deputy director of the Beijing Children's Legal Aid and Research Center, there are no specific figures on how many children are killed or disabled by abusive parents annually in China.

Statistics from media reports present an incomplete picture but show on average one child was killed by an abusive parent every week between 2006 and 2010. The number may rise because abuse against children is attracting more attention and gaining publicity, said Zhang.

There is a much greater risk of child abuse in families in which the guardians have alcohol and drug abuse problems or are under great stress and lack support, added Zhang.

Over the years, legal experts and deputies to the National People's Congress, the nation's highest law-making body, have called for the drafting of a specific law to protect children from being harmed by abusive parents. However, no solid progress has been made.

There have been so many tragedies and a proper law, or at least a regulation by the State Council, China's Cabinet, is urgently needed, Zhang said.

"Children are not the private property of their parents" and an intervention mechanism to curb the violence is greatly needed, she added.

Huang Qi, director of the research committee of the protection of minors' rights and interests under the Shanghai Lawyers Association, said the trickiest part of the issue is that it is hard to find a proper guardian or an institution to take care of children when they are separated from violent parents.

A sound legal system, funds and proper institutions are needed to tackle the problem, she said.

More attention has been given to issues of homeless children and juvenile offenders. Children suffering abuse in families are largely ignored, she said.

Although parents are the immediate guardians of their children, the nation serves as the final guardian of its children. It is time it took action, she added.

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