Stepmother in Kurdistan beats stepson to death

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 10.21.39Erbil police administration published a short video, whereby a stepmother confesses that she caused her stepson’s death. She has not been put on trial in a court of law to establish whether her negligence and violent behaviour immediately led to the effective killing of the 4-year-old child. You can watch the video in Kurdish at Rudaw portal.

Regardless of whether these are established facts by the police administration, she still deserves a legal representative, and the publication of this short video further highlights why police need to be more professional. Confessions videos published (assuming the defendant permitted this) should only be allowed after a trial takes place, in a court of law.

The interrogative and unprofessional behaviour this footage shows is a set back to children’s rights, and women’s rights. Our children deserve to be protected by law, and our women deserve to be protected by that same law, and this can only be possible if the legal procedures in place are effectively used.

For those who don’t understand Kurdish, the 4-year-old child was beaten repeatedly on the head with a bathing cup (Jami hemam) by the stepmother, after he refused to shower. The severe beating to the head caused a concussion, leading to a seizure. He was momentarily stabilised in hospital, but died shortly afterwards.

The stepdaughter, known as Rayyan, has evidently received a similar treatment from the stepmother. Her body is covered with bite marks, and other marks, possibly showing similar violent behaviour towards her.

I feel saddened immensely for these two children, who did not live their childhood at the hands of a evil woman who showed no mercy or compassion. I can only hope and pray that Rayyan does not grow up with the bitter memories of her stepmother beating her brother, and I can only pray that the Kurdish public are more rigorous in reporting instances of child-abuse.

Not long ago while at a supermarket in Erbil (Hewler), a father violently slapped his son in front of me. I was so shocked, and by the time they exited the supermarket I was still trying to pull myself together. It was perplexing, and shocking, leaving me paralysed, but more importantly, what could I have done? Everyone in the supermarket paid little attention, or even genuine care. It was just a father disciplining his son, but to me, and thousands of others, this is child abuse, not discipline.

As a bystander, when seeing instances of child abuse, how can I report it in Kurdistan? Do I call the police to deal with this matter? I don’t think they would take me seriously, and in fact I might end by being the nuisance. What is needed, without a doubt, is a child service system that protects children, and puts them in care when they are abused at home.

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