NASSAU – A girl severely beaten by her guardians in videos that recently went viral has been taken into the custody of the state, The Tribune understands.
An official at the ministry of social services said she is most likely residing in a children’s home. The footage of her beating earlier this month sparked a divisive debate about corporal punishment in the country.
Police chief superintendent Solomon Cash said yesterday authorities are still investigating her case and have not yet determined if anyone will be charged with a crime.
A one-minute, 30-second video first posted to Facebook showed the young girl being punched in her head by a woman, beaten with a belt and struck with a stick for ‘coming home late’.
Another video of the girl being beaten – not previously reported in the media – was also posted to Facebook. That time, she was beaten repeatedly and savagely with a belt by a man. At one point she cried that she would “fall out”.
A woman then replied: “You ga fall out? You ga fall out? You wasn’t falling out when you was taking d*. You wasn’t falling out when you was by man . . . ” The man beating her then appears to pull her to the ground, lashing her multiple times with a belt.
A woman’s voice can also be heard in the background screaming, “Kill her, kill her.”
The department of social services has not said whether it will recommend that charges be pressed in the case. Police officials say they anticipate a recommendation from such officials about what should happen in the matter.
In wake of the incident, human rights group Rights Bahamas has urged law enforcement officials to establish stricter policies to protect children from abuse.
In a recent press statement, the group questioned whether officials are “doing everything in their power” to ensure the wellbeing of minors. It accused national security minister Marvin Dames of “refusing to Tuesday, May 29, 2018a clear case of child abuse”.
Stephanie St Fleur, president of the group, said in a statement on Friday: “It is heartbreaking to not only see a child treated this way on video, but also to hear that officials refused to call it what it is.”
“If we cannot label a child receiving 40 blows to different parts of her body by a grown adult (as) abuse, then how can we raise awareness about such terrible practices? How can we teach our children right from wrong?” she said.
Ms St Fleur also discussed the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s (RBPF) apparent delay in reporting recent incidents of sexual assaults involving young girls.
“It is also baffling that the police failed to inform the public about a possible child predator on the streets,” she said. “Our children are among the most vulnerable members of society and we expect law enforcement to go above and beyond, both to warn society of potential threats against minors, and to recognize and thoroughly investigate all cases in which they are abused.”
Various other advocacy groups have also reacted to the assaults, renewing calls for the implementation of a sexual offenders registry and for judicial reform to address abuse of minors. (The Tribune)