Assamese girl a ‘battered child’, say medical experts

The little Assamese girl admitted to the paediatric surgical wing at the Institute of Child Health (ICH) of the Kottayam Medical College Hospital last month is a victim of neglect and sustained abuse qualifying her as a ‘battered child,’ observed medical experts.

A medical board, comprising doctors drawn from various departments, that met on Monday had concluded as much though whether the abuse was sexual remains something to be found out by a police investigation. The Battered Child Syndrome denotes injuries suffered by a child as a result of physical abuse inflicted usually by an adult caregiver.

“The lacerations just above the vagina were indicative of possible unnatural sex though the hymen was intact. The child remains to be examined by a gastroenterologist to ascertain whether the rectal perforations were on account of some rare disease though the findings of the paediatric surgeon were adequate enough,” said ICH sources.

The girl, whom the police said was nearly five-year-old but was found to be aged only three-and-a-half-year through a scientific bone examination was living with her father and stepmother and their children at a rented house at Perumattom in Muvattupuzha. She was taken to a private hospital last month after she complained of abdominal pain. From there she was referred to ICH after her condition was found complicated.

She underwent surgery there when it was revealed that she had a wound in the intestine and considerable deposits of pus in the stomach. “There was no sign of food though, which means that either the girl wasn’t offered any food or she didn’t take it. She also had fractures to her leg, hand, skull and ribs indicating abuse,” said sources.

The hypothesis by the police was that the child sustained the injuries from a fall she had from the window on to a broken cycle split by the middle. However, medical sources who examined the cycle seized by the police found the injuries incompatible with the cycle in question.

During interactions a psychologist proficient in Assamese, allotted by the Childline, had with victim she stuck to the version of accidental fall on three occasions, said Muvattupuzha police sources. They recorded her statement before the magistrate as well.

POCSO case

The police had invoked charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act after the doctor treating the child flagged that the kind of injury found on her backside could also have been caused by sexual abuse among other things.

“The medical board was formed at our request and they are yet to finalise the report, which will be a confidential one to be handed to us. The report is expected by the end of this week,” said police sources.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 6, 2021 1:30:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/assamese-girl-a-battered-child-say-medical-experts/article34311838.ece

Next Story