Hong Kong twin sisters, 15, arrested over abused seven-year-old

Hong Kong twin sisters, 15, arrested over abused seven-year-old

In a horrific case of suspected child abuse a seven-year-old girl has been in intensive care since last month

Twin sisters, 15, were arrested on Monday in a horrific case of child abuse in Hong Kong. The pair’s seven-year-old step sister had been in intensive care since she was admitted to hospital mid-July with injuries “all over her body”. The child’s mother and step-father were also arrested. She has since been moved to the children’s ward of PrincessMargaretHospital in Kwai Chung hospital where staff say she is in a stable condition.

“She is very thin and weak but she does not need to be connected to an oxygen tube,” a police source said. “She is in a conscious state but she doesn’t talk and needs to be spoon-fed.”

The source said the girl also suffered brain damage, which likely happened after a 10-minute emergency during which her heart stopped, when she was brought to hospital unconscious on July 18. 

The girl had also been starved, and she weighed less than 15kg. A normal girl of her age would weigh 20kg. Her muscles were small and weak.

"There was gangrene on her thighs, buttocks and feet. Skin ulcers were all over her body," said a source close to the investigation. Gangrene is when the skin and surrounding tissue dies because of a lack of blood or an infection. It is caused by wounds left untreated.

The child, who shared a Tsuen Wan flat with her family, was taken to the nearby YanChaiHospital by her mother, who told medics the girl had slipped and fallen in the bath.

The medics tried to wake the girl up, but could not. She was later sent to the intensive care unit at PrincessMargaretHospital in Kwai Chung.

The Social Welfare Department stepped in when the hospital suspected that the girl had been abused. The case was referred to police late last month.

After an investigation, the father, 50, the mother, 40, and the twin sisters, 15, were arrested on suspicion of misleading the police on Friday and on Monday.

The girl also has a six-year-old brother, who has not been involved in the case, the source said.

The source added that the girl was taken out of her kindergarten in April soon after staff noted injuries to her arms and legs and asked her mother about them.

The seven-year-old girl lived with her parents and three siblings in a sub-divided flat in Tsuen Wan and went to a kindergarten after she came to Hong Kong from the mainland last November.

The parents are unemployed and the family lives on welfare money.

The mother had told police the mainland-born girl first came to Hong Kong in June, when records in fact showed that she had arrived in the city in last November, the source added.

The source said that the girl’s mother admitted she had used a cane to punish her in one instance.

"One of her twin sisters also said she was naughty, always running around."

 Nobody has yet been charged in connection with the case. The parents and sisters have been released on bail.

A spokesman for the Social Welfare Department said that a family service centre in Tsuen Wan had been following the case, which had been passed to the Family and Child Protective Service Units under the department to handle.

Social workers would pay close attention to the girl’s situation and would offer suitable welfare services to her parents and siblings, the spokesman added.

It is against the law in Hong Kong to beat a child under the age of 16 in such a way that they are injured.

What to do if you see anyone being abused – Tell a teacher or other adult or contact Family and Child Protective Services Units on 23432255.

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