Case File 0/25:'Miriam's Story

We are committed to showing our supporters exactly why we need their support and how their money is spent. That is why, for the first time, we have decided to open the case files of some of the children we have helped. This is an extract of a real case file. This is Miriam's Story

(to preserve anonymity names and some details have been changed)

Case File 0/25 'Miriam'

Child: Female, 14 years old

Nature of Abuse: Physical Abuse (GBH)/ Neglect

Perpetrator: Males/Relatives

Family History: Child lives with paternal uncle and his son. Child is the only surviving child of her parents. Her father is deceased. Mother’s whereabouts is unknown.

Summary: Child referred by head teacher of the primary school where the child attends. After child’s father died, the child stayed with paternal aunt who accused child of stealing. The aunt then called 6 ‘area boys’ who took the child and flogged her severely causing deep lacerations on her back, arms and legs trying to get her to confess. She was then taken to the airport field where the beating continued, lasting for 5 hours. Photos were taken of the injuries. Child then went to her uncle’s house where she was neglected and further abuse took place. Child has threatened to run away, however there is nowhere else for her to go.  

Chronology

10.10.16 Project officer interviewed child at school. Her uncle is not looking after her, neglecting her basic needs such as food, clothing and education.

11.10.16 Litigation officer, intern and project officer met with child to find out where Uncle lived so he could be interviewed. Child was driven close to the house so she could identify it without placing her at risk.

12.10.16 Litigation officer and intern met with child’s uncle at his house. He appeared intimidating once he knew of the purpose of our visit. He contacted by phone the child’s aunt and cousin. He spoke in his local language thinking we could not understand. The litigation officer could understand. The uncle was saying that the aunt had to convince the child to deny her story. The uncle wanted us to wait to meet the aunt but we could not wait any longer so we agreed to meet with the aunt at the project office.

13.10.16 Meeting with child’s aunt, cousin and uncle to ascertain who inflicted the injuries on the child. The family spoke about the child as a ‘thief’. The boyfriend of the child’s relative beat the child as did other boys. Another meeting was scheduled to discuss the up keep and care of the child.

13.10.16 Visit to child at school to assess her safety. Child stated uncle had not been abusive since the visit to her uncle’s home on 11.10.11.

13.10.16 Counsellor interviewed child’s cousin (cousin A) on her involvement in the beating. She admitted it was her boyfriend who flogged the child

17.10.16 Child’s cousin (cousin B) came to project office to discuss care of the child. This interview was audio recorded. Cousin states the incident happened on 29.10.16. Cousin unable to take responsibility for the child as she is about to have a baby.

26.10.16 Follow up visit to cousin A to take a witness statement. She was not available, it seems she has travelled and will return on Sunday.

27.10.16 Follow up visit to child at school. Child informed project staff that her uncle is not taking care of her. She often has to walk to school which can take up to 2 hours each way. She comes to school without food and hardly eats, some days has one meal a day if that. Child says this is because uncle has no money, however this may not be the case as the uncle is a retired army person and receives a pension. Noticed an infection on the child’s finger. Bought child some medication for the pain and some food so she can take her tablets.

31.10.16 Statement taken from child. Child informed project officer she no longer wants to stay with her uncle. Uncle has accused her of being a witch and has taken her to a church for classes. Also, the uncle’s son is allegedly beating her up. Her hand is still causing her pain.

1.11.16 Took child to general hospital to have finger medically assessed. Child given medication and told to return for dressing of the wound.

2.11.16 Medical check up at general hospital.

4.11.16 Visit to cousin A’s house. She was home and she was asked to come to the project office so her statement could be taken. Took child to hospital to have her finger cleaned and dressed.

7.11.16 Visit to cousin A’s house as she did not come to project office as agreed. Not at home.

7.11.16 Advocacy letter written to catholic Archbishop to enquire about accommodation for the child given her circumstances. Letter attached to file.

9.11.16 Hospital visit. Finger is healing and child no longer needs to return to hospital for treatment.

11.11.16 Phone call from child’s uncle to inform us child no longer wishes to stay with him. Project staff spoke to the child to find out if she was ok. She was desperately unhappy about staying with the Uncle. Plan made to visit the child at school to discuss alternatives.

14.11.16 Counsellor contacted uncle to discuss how things are going at home. Child still saying she does not want to stay with him and is threatening to go and stay with a friend. Spoke with child and made an arrangement to visit her tomorrow.

15.11.16 Counsellor met with child at her school. Child said she does not want to stay with uncle as he is not doing anything to help her and she is living under threat of further abuse. She wants to go and live with her friend. Counselling provided. It is difficult to respond to child’s need to move as there is nowhere for her to stay.

22.11.16 Counsellor met with child at her school. Child reports having no clothes to wear. Child offered counselling and support.

25.11.16 Visit to Uncle's home to investigate clothing situation to discover child had run away from home last night.

25.11.16 Visit to child’s school. Spoke with head mistress who spoke with some students to find out if they knew anything about child’s whereabouts. No information gathered except that the child planned to go and stay with a friend. Plan to contact child’ family and request they start searching for her. Police to be informed.

25.11.16 Message sent to child’s family informing them child is still missing and requesting they come to project office to discuss.

28.11.16 Visit to cousin A’s home. Cousin at home but does not know whereabouts of child. Cousin states child has stolen more money from the family.

You can follow the next stage of Miriam's Story in the May edition of our Safe Child Africa Newsletter.