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Crime in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police arrest parents of girl, 11, after she was forced to take cold shower

A police source says the girl was told to take shower only after other family members had finished and there was no more hot water left

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 February, 2018, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 3:32pm

The parents of an 11-year-old girl were arrested for suspected child abuse on Monday after they were accused of forcing their daughter to take a cold shower during the city’s cold snap.

Police and paramedics were called to Po Yan Oblate Primary School in Lok Sin Road, Kowloon City, at about 10.30 on Monday morning after a social worker at the school suspected the girl was a victim of abuse.

Suspicions were raised after the girl showed up wearing a dress and a cardigan – but no jacket despite temperatures of seven degree Celsius.

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A police source said investigators learned that the girl, who has a cleft lip, was allowed to take a shower only after the other family members had finished and there was no more hot water left. Investigators believed the parents did not like the girl as much as their other daughter because she had a cleft lip.

“No external wound was found on the girl. She was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for examination,” a police spokesman said.

Police arrested the girl’s father, 35, and mother, 40, soon after at the family’s home in Wong Tai Sin. The couple were being held for questioning and had not yet been charged.

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The police source said the girl, who had been monitored by a social worker since 2016 when she was returned to the parents from a foster family, had a younger sister in the same school.

The parents are unemployed and the family has been receiving support from the city’s welfare department.

The school declined to comment citing the ongoing police investigation.

According to official statistics, the Social Welfare Department handled 704 cases of child abuse in the first nine months of last year, with parents making up 59.7 per cent of suspected abusers.

There were 892 reports in 2016.

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Caritas’ senior social work supervisor Raymond Fung Hing-kau, who manages counselling services at nine primary schools, said social workers try to examine pupils for signs of abuse every day.

But he said it was difficult to spot all signs of abuse because of a staff shortage.

He said suspected child abuses cases could be better detected if more time were allowed for teachers and social workers to meet students in small groups regularly.