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16 Days of Activism: Girl (5) allegedly abused by parents tested positive for crystal meth

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A large number of child abuse cases are linked to gender-based violence and intimate partner violence within their households.

Crystal meth being poured into a “lolly”. File picture: ANA

CAPE TOWN – With the focus on 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is concerned over far too many cases of non-accidental injuries coming through its doors.

According to Dr Anita Parbhoo, the hospital’s medical manager, a large number of child abuse cases are linked to gender-based violence and intimate partner violence within their households.

The hospital had 66 confirmed and 146 suspected cases of non-accidental injuries for September 2019 to September 2020, of which one of the most tragic was that of a five-year-old girl who had multiple bruises over her body and tested positive for crystal meth after being found alone in her house when a neighbour had heard her crying.

The mother, who was allegedly physically abused if she did not find money for drugs, has since been arrested, but the father has fled.

’’After forcing open a window, the neighbour found her lying on the floor, her speech not clear and she appeared drowsy. At hospital, ’S’ was screened, tested and checked,“ the Western Cape Health Department said in a statement.

’’The toxicology screen revealed that she was positive for methamphetamines, she had multiple bruising of different ages all over her body, she was underweight for her age, her teeth were rotten, her immunisations were not up to date, and she had three old rib fractures and one new skull fracture.

’’Over a number of interviews with a social worker, the patient disclosed the history of drug use in their house by her parents and how her father physically abused her by smacking her with his hand and pushing her against the wall and punching her on her chest.

’’She revealed that her mother hit her head against the wall when she did not want to beg for food in the area where they lived. She also described how she was locked in the house after her parents smoked drugs or left her alone when they went out with friends.

’’While the mother was arrested, the father’s whereabouts remain unknown. The parents had a history of domestic violence where the father physically abused the mother if she did not find money for drugs.

’’The maternal grandparents both died when the mother was young, and she was placed in foster care as no family was able to care for her. While in foster care, at the age of 16, she was raped by an unknown male.

“’S’ was removed from her parents’ care and placed in a Child and Youth Care Facility. She has made a full recovery and has received counselling.

’’Stories like these are far too common. Intimate partner violence can affect women and children from all walks of life.

’’As society, we need to step up our vigilance, we all need to raise our voices and report the perpetrators of violence and abuse (who are often men) and break the cycle of abuse.’’

* The name of “S” has been withheld to protect her identity.