The story appears on

Page A10

August 14, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » World

Child abuse cases stir German anger

THE death by starvation of a three-year-old girl in Germany has sparked a round of soul searching on how to combat rising child neglect in the country.

The girl's death on Monday in Nuremberg has led to accusations of government failure in tackling child abuse and recriminations against social services, pushing the issue to the fore as a September 27 federal election looms.

Deutsche Kinderhilfe, a children's aid group, called three-year-old Sarah "another victim of political inactivity," prompting Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen to press for the introduction of a new child protection law as soon as possible.

"Child protection cannot wait," von der Leyen, a mother of seven, said. "We need this law to be brought in right after the election."

The tragedy was just one in a slew of incidents that have risen to national prominence in the run-up to the vote.

Von der Leyen was speaking as a court in the eastern city of Chemnitz on Wednesday handed down an eight-year jail sentence for manslaughter to a mother who allowed her two-year-old boy to die of thirst and starvation over Christmas in 2007.

The same day, a 19-year-old went on trial in Nuremberg for torturing his girlfriend's baby daughter.

A day earlier, a baby girl was found dead in a plastic bag in Stuttgart, while on Monday authorities charged a 21-year-old from the town of Biesenthal with killing her newborn twins.

"There's been a shocking run of cases of child abuse and neglect," said Paula Honkanen-Schoberth, managing director of the German child protection federation.

"We're starting to see more political awareness of the problem, but it's yet to be followed up by increased readiness to come up with the funding for it," she said.

Experts say the subject has been ignored for too long.

"However, it's getting more attention in the media now, which should help," said Michael Kruse, a spokesman for aid organization Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk.

With one of the lowest birth rates in the developed world and an aging population, children are considered a precious commodity in Germany.

Experts say rising poverty levels and increasing social isolation have made children a less popular choice.

Authorities say that due to a lack of international statistics, it is hard to assess whether child abuse in Germany is more prevalent than in other developed countries.

The death of Sarah, whose parents are under investigation for suspected manslaughter, followed a series of highly publicized incidences of abuse in the last few weeks.

There was widespread outrage and revulsion over the case of a Berlin mother who last month was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison after she injected her baby son with faeces.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend