Wicked stepmothers jailed for fatal child abuse

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Wicked stepmothers jailed for fatal child abuse

Parents whose abuse led to the death of children have received heavy punishments in recent rulings, especially cruel stepmothers.

The Seoul High Court handed down a 10-year prison term Thursday to a 51-year-old woman whose years of abuse caused the death of her step daughter.

The woman, whose last name was identified as Yang, married her husband in 2008 and raised his two children from the previous marriage. She abused the stepdaughter and stepson from the start by beating them up, according to the prosecution.

When she was under the influence of alcohol, she forced the children to eat massive amounts of steamed rice. After the 10-year-old stepdaughter was caught trying to surreptitiously throw away the rice, Yang began punishing her by mixing large amounts of salt in her meals.

Starting in July 2012, Yang mixed three tablespoons of salt in the stepdaughter’s bowl of rice two to three times a week. When the child threw up, she was forced to eat her own vomit. Yang also forced the stepdaughter to eat her own excrement.

After a month of that treatment, the girl died of salt poisoning. Both parents were prosecuted last December.

During her trial, Yang insisted she added the salt to correct the stepdaughter’s eating habits. She claimed her stepson’s testimonies about her abuses were coached by adults.

The court rejected her arguments.

“After the sister died, the elder brother went to live with his grandparents and gave consistent testimony about the abuses,” the court said. “And his stories are so explicit that no one could coach him with such stories unless they actually experienced such abuse.”

The court said it decided on a 10-year prison term because Yang did not show remorse during the trial although she had inflicted extreme pain on her stepdaughter for three years.

The court, however, did not convict Yang of manslaughter because the correlation between the abuse and the death was not fully proven. The court acquitted the father, saying the children did not inform him of the abuses so he could not be convicted of negligence.

Meanwhile, a couple who killed their son by beating him and locking him out of their apartment on a veranda were also convicted Thursday.

The Seoul Western District Court convicted a 33-year-old woman surnamed Kwon and her 35-year-old husband, Na, for manslaughter and abuse. The woman was ordered to serve eight years in prison for the death of her stepson while the father was ordered to serve a five-year prison term.

“Kwon decided to raise the child not because she loved him but to prevent Na from meeting his ex-wife,” the court said.

The court said she beat up the 8-year-old son and made him stay on the balcony of their home from morning until evening. He died from the beatings.

“All children have the right to live happily and safely at home and to be protected from abuse and violence,” the court said.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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