PERMATANG PAUH: Neighbours of an 11-year-old girl, who was believed to have been abused for a year by her stepmother, expressed relief that she was rescued from her ordeal.
The neighbours, who spoke to the New Straits Times on condition of anonymity, said they feared the girl would have suffered an even worse fate had the authorities not been alerted to the abuse in time.
One of them, a self-employed man in his 40s, said neighbours could hear the stepmother scolding or hitting the child almost daily over the past year.
He claimed they never saw the girl leave for school during that period.
He said there were many times that neighbours would find the girl crying outside her house way past midnight.
“We could see scars on her. But she would never tell us what happened. She appeared scared.
“In this latest incident, we heard the victim crying profusely two to three days prior to her rescue.
“I saw her yesterday (Sunday) when she was arranging slippers outside her house.
“He eyes were so swollen, she could hardly open them. I asked her about her injuries but she said nothing,” he said here yesterday.
The man said he doubted if the girl was being fed properly, saying that the first thing she uttered when she was rescued was “I am hungry”.
He said the neighbourhood used to be peaceful, but the situation changed when the girl’s biological mother went to jail and the stepmother moved in last year.
Another neighbour, in his late 30s, said it pained him whenever he heard the girl’s cries.
He, however, said there was not much the neighbours could do.
“The stepmother only targeted the girl, who is the eldest in the family. Maybe it is because she is not her own flesh and blood.
“But even then, she is just a child. How could anyone treat her like that?” he asked.
He claimed the couple did not properly look after their eight other children; letting them run freely below the flats in the afternoon without any supervision.
“They would make loud noises but no one seemed to care.
“As for the victim, we seldom saw her,” he said.
It was reported that the girl, who was believed to have been abused by her stepmother, was rescued by police from her home in the Ampang Jajar flats near here on Sunday.
The matter came to light after Malaysian Tamilar Kural president David Marshel received a call from the girl’s neighbour who alerted them to the incident.
The girl had claimed to be beaten by her stepmother on the head with a helmet, causing her eyes to swell. There were also injuries to her forehead, hands and legs.
Doctors who attended to the girl also found old injuries on her.
The couple was arrested by police on Sunday.
Yesterday, police obtained a week-long remand order against the couple.
Seberang Prai Tengah district police chief Assistant Commissioner Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abdul Hamid said the couple tested positive for drugs.
“Our investigation showed that the victim was the only child subjected to abuse of the nine children the couple have,” he said.
The victim was warded at the Seberang Jaya Hospital’s paediatric ward.
She was scheduled to undergo X-ray and CT scans.
“A child specialist will be present to check on the girl’s condition,” said Nik Ros Azhan.