A couple who was arrested on Sunday for allegedly severely abusing their 11-year-old daughter, was charged separately at the Sessions Court today. - File pic

BUTTERWORTH: A couple who was arrested on Sunday for allegedly severely abusing their 11-year-old daughter, was charged separately at the Sessions Court here, today.

A 38-year-old housewife was alleged to have abused and neglected her stepdaughter to the extent of causing physical and emotional injuries at their Ampang Jajar PPR flats between mid-2019 and 12.15pm on Feb 9 this year.

Her 36-year-old husband was alleged to have neglected, abandoned and exposed his child to emotional injury at the same place, time and date.

Both were charged under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or a maximum 20 years’ jail, or both, upon conviction.

The charge was read to the wife first in Tamil and later to the husband in Malay before judge Norhayati Mohamad Yunus.

Both indicated that they understood the charge and pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Deputy public prosecutor JG Kaameni prosecuted while the couple was unrepresented.

Kaameni urged the court not to set bail for the accused due to their family ties with the victim – one being the stepmother and the other the father.

“This is also to prevent the accused from disturbing the victim,” she told the court, requesting a mention date pending the medical report.

She also told the court that the victim is still receiving intensive treatment in hospital and the state Welfare Department has yet to step in.

The badly bruised 11-year-old child was rescued by the police from her home in the Ampang Jajar flats.

The housewife, in mitigation, asked the court for bail, saying she has seven young children.

“My youngest, just over 1-year-old, is suffering from a weak heart. I, myself, am suffering from gastritis,” she said in Tamil through the court interpreter.

Norhayati said the children would want to be with their parents.

“But if we grant bail, then we also have to look into the welfare of the (victim),” she added.

She then set bail at RM15,000 each, in one surety, and fixed March 17 for mention.

Earlier, the couple were escorted to court separately.

Sporting a grey t-shirt and pink shorts, the housewife arrived about 30 minutes later than her husband, who was clad in a black t-shirt and grey shorts.

Both did not get the opportunity to talk to each other.

Several people, believed to be family members, were in the public gallery to observe the court proceedings.

It was reported that the couple was detained last Sunday after police rescued the victim from her home in the Ampang Jajar flats near here, following a report lodged by the Malaysian Tamilar Kural.

After being rescued, the girl told police she had been beaten by her stepmother on the head with a helmet, causing both her eyes to swell.

There were also injuries to her forehead, hands and legs. Doctors who attended to her said there were also old injuries on the victim.

A urine test conducted came back positive for methamphetamine for the husband.

A police investigation found that the victim was the only child subjected to abuse out of the couple’s nine children.

The girl is the man’s daughter from a previous marriage.

The victim is currently at the paediatric ward of the Seberang Jaya Hospital.