image image

Crime in Hong Kong

Mothers arrested after infant and girl, 5, left alone at home in Hong Kong village house

Case came to light after hungry kindergarten pupil went to ask neighbour for food

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 11:02pm

Two mothers were arrested for suspected child neglect after leaving their children – a one-year-old boy and a girl, five – unattended at their village home in Hong Kong on Monday.

The case came to light when the girl, a kindergarten pupil, complained of being hungry and asked her neighbour for food in San Uk Tsuen, Fanling, police said on Tuesday.

The pair, who were unhurt, were taken to North District Hospital for a check-up.

On Tuesday afternoon, the two children were still being cared for in hospital. The Social Welfare Department is following up on the case.

The Post understands that the two women live with the same boyfriend, the two children and the girl’s seven-year-old brother in a two-storey house.

The girl’s mother, 29, said she went to pick up her son from school at the time of the incident while the infant’s pregnant mother, 23, had complained of stomachache and left home.

The boyfriend, a logistics worker in his 30s, was at work at the time.

Law in Hong Kong doesn’t protect children from abuse, charity warns

Emergency personnel were first informed of the situation at about 5.30pm on Monday, police said.

“The girl felt hungry, left home and asked one of her neighbours for food. The neighbour then took her back home and found the infant, but no adult at home,” a police source said.

The neighbour, fearing for the children’s safety, called police.

Officers arrested the mothers on suspicion of ill-treatment or neglect of a child when they later returned home. The two women were released on bail pending further investigation.

Police said there had not been any report of domestic violence or child abuse involving the family since they moved into the house about a year ago.

Be a better neighbour, don’t ignore signs of child abuse

The Post understands that police were studying the case with the department. “If necessary, a care and protection order will be applied for in court to get custodial authority for the children,” the source said.

In Hong Kong, ill-treatment or neglect of a child carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail under the Offences Against the Person Ordinance.

The department handled 947 cases of newly reported child abuse last year, up 6 per cent compared with 892 in 2016. There were 874 cases in 2015, 856 in 2014 and 963 in 2013.

Of the cases last year, 39.5 per cent were related to physical abuse and 24.2 per cent involved neglect.