Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rally together to address the problem of broken homes

Man arrested, charged with murder of three-year-old boy
By Faris – December 23rd, 2010

A man has been arrested for causing the death of a three-year-old boy, who was beaten and subsequently died from his injuries.

Muhammad Raffiq Jaffah, 23, who is a friend of the toddler’s 22-year-old mother, was arrested and charged for causing causing grievous hurt to Danish Iman Abdullah on Dec 15, reported The Straits Times.

Currently in remand, he will appear in court next Tuesday and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Muhammad is alleged to have hit the boy in a Geylang Road apartment between 5.30pm and 6.15pm on Dec 15 by using his hand to slap the toddler’s face, causing him to hit the wall.

Danish was then taken to the intensive care unit of the hospital and six days later, he succumbed to his injuries at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital at 3.30am on Monday.

According to Singapore’s Malay newspaper Berita Harian, the child’s death certificate states that he died from a traumatic injury to the head.

A family friend who had visited Danish at the hospital told the paper, “His whole body was covered in black and blue bruises, his left leg was broken in eight places and the doctor said he suffered brain damage.”

He was buried at the Pusara Abadi cemetery in Chua Chu Kang on Tuesday. A man believed to be Danish’s father declined to be interviewed when Berita Harian approached him at the funeral.

It is understood that Danish and his mother used to live with his maternal grandmother in a four-room flat at Serangoon Avenue 2. However, neighbours said they had not seen both mother and child in recent months.

A neighbour, Ms K. Packyaletchumy, 48, said she used to see the petite, young mother walking with her son to school in the morning.

“The boy was very cute and chubby. He would always cry when he had to go to school and when he came home,” said Ms Packyaletchumy, a patient care assistant.

Another neighbour, Mr Ho Soon Chye, 55, said the family had moved into the flat about three years ago but he had stopped seeing both mother and child a few months ago.

The toddler’s death is the latest in a string of child abuse cases involving Malay families in recent years. Since 2006, there was a total six incidents of such child abuse cases which resulted in deaths.

Last year, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, called for the Malay community to rally together to address the problem of broken homes. This comes after the death of six-year-old Muhammad Nor Rashidy Rahmat, who was allegedly killed by a family friend.

On Wednesday, Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong GRC, Madam Halimah Yacob, said such abuse cases occurred mostly in dysfunctional families.

“Part of the problem is having young couples that are not mature enough to handle stressful situations that arise from marriage and parenthood,” she said.

Mdm Halimah added that further stress is created in families where parents remarry and bring in children from previous marriages.

The situation is also made worse by the fact that these families tend to belong to the lower income group and face pressures trying to make ends meet.

“Although there are many counselling programmes in place, most of these couples have to work all day, and they cannot attend the sessions.

“The challenge is in reaching out to them,” she said.

On the other hand, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, an MP for Hong Kah GRC, said understanding the profile of such families would help to target them more effectively.

He added that in the past year, he had seen changes in attitudes within the lower income group, and with parents wanting to do better.

Highlighting that the cases were not representative of the Malay community, Mr Zaqy said, “But once in a while, you get cases like these that make us take notice and reflect on whether we have been able to reach out to all corners and all sectors.”

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