Mother arrested in Hong Kong after images of boys tied up and being repeatedly hit go viral
Woman heard talking over images, with child crying in background, saying: ‘Now I’ve tied his hands and legs in the bathroom. Do these pictures look nice?’
A Hong Kong mother of three with a history of assault has been arrested for child abuse after images showing a one of her sons tied up and another being repeatedly slapped went viral, police said on Monday.
In three photographs widely circulated since Saturday, a boy, believed to be the woman’s 8-year-old son, is seen in a bathroom with his hands and legs tied up, while a separate image shows the boy lying on the bathroom floor without a shirt.
In an accompanying 13-second video, a woman slaps another boy, believed to be the woman’s 10-year-old son, in the face several times as he struggles on the ground in a children’s playground, begging her to stop.
Police said the woman’s daughter, 5, was seen joining in and hitting her 10-year-old brother’s eyes with an object.
A woman is heard talking over the images, while a child cries in the background, saying: “Now I’ve tied his hands and legs in the bathroom. Do these pictures look nice?”
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The police Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau launched an investigation and a police spokesman said officers had arrested the woman, 41, in a flat at Mei Sang House on the Shek Kip Mei Estate on Sunday night.
The Post understands police were searching for a man believed to have filmed the incidents, and were investigating how the images ended up spreading on the internet.
A police source said investigators believed the footage was taken last summer.
The three siblings were taken to hospital for medical examinations on Sunday. They were still in hospital on Monday.
The mother was being held for questioning and had not been charged.
The mother has lived with her husband and the three children in the public housing flat since 2009.
The Post understands that the woman was bound over for two years for assaulting her husband in 2013 and was given a probation order in 2016 for the ill-treatment of one of her sons.
A police source said child psychologists from the force would talk to the three children.
“If necessary, a care and protection order will be applied for in court,” the source said.
Neighbours said the mother was often seen beating and scolding the boys.
Caspar Tsui Ying-wai, Hong Kong’s undersecretary for labour and welfare, would not comment on the case during a panel meeting on welfare services at the city’s legislature on Monday morning. He only said police were taking care of the matter.
Last year officers handled 1,394 domestic violence cases considered criminal, 449 cases classed as “miscellaneous”, and 10,649 “domestic incidents”, Chief Superintendent Yau Siu-ke said.
Tsui said a special task force had been set up to review procedures for identifying and handling suspected child abuse, including the possibility of establishing a mandatory reporting system.
Under current guidelines from the Social Welfare Department, people can flag suspicions of abuse to a medical clinic or hospital, police station or service unit of a government department, or an NGO.
Last year the department recorded 947 new cases of child abuse, including 374 of physical abuse, 315 involving sexual abuse and 229 of neglect. About 60 per cent of the perpetrators were the parents, while the rest were unrelated to the child.
Social welfare lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun said he welcomed the police action in the case, but said neighbours, schools and the Social Welfare Department should do more to monitor child abuse.
“Police action is good but not the best, because sometimes the information from online was limited,” he said. “The schools are in good and immediate position to detect any suspicious circumstances.”