Ye-rin deserves better

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Ye-rin deserves better

Eleven-year-old Ye-rin (the name has been changed to protect her identity) had to escape on her own to break out of the nightmare. The girl, who is 120 centimeters (4 feet) tall and weighs only 16 kilograms (35 pounds), climbed down a gas pipe and escaped her abusive father.

Ye-rin was desperate, but the “grown-ups” responded poorly. Until Ye-rin escaped and was discovered by the owner of a supermarket in her neighborhood, no one realized she was being abused. Neither her school nor the police or social workers detected any signs of abuse. Problems continued after the dramatic rescue. Under the discretion of the rescue worker, she was taken to a hospital in Incheon, close to where she had been found. While the hospital did its best to care for Ye-rin, this hospital does not provide specialized care for abuse victims.

Ye-rin spent 13 days in a six-bed hospital room, and no nursing staff was assigned to care for her 24 hours a day. She was moved to a single room on Thursday when the central children protection agency providing assistance addressed the issue.

The police assumed the period of abuse to be about two years based on the victim’s testimony and the point of the family’s move into the current residence, and forwarded the case to the prosecution without a medical investigation. But the growth of 11-year-old Ye-rin stopped at age 7, and experts agree that abuse must have continued for more than four years.

Other developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have completely different procedures. When a case of child abuse is reported, the victim is provided with a single room and 24-hour care. The period of abuse is also scientifically investigated by consulting doctors and legal professionals. It is the minimum measure to make up for the mistakes of adults for neglecting the innocent child with the abusive predator.

Saenuri Party lawmaker and pediatric psychiatrist Shin Yee-jin examined Ye-rin’s psychological state, and when it was reported in the JoongAng Ilbo, readers were furious at the father and wished to help Ye-rin. What moved them were two drawings by the girl, each about 2 centimeters big.

Ye-rin had been abused for years and could not even express her basic emotions and needs such as “sad” or “hungry.” But she still has the beautiful heart to care about others rather than feel hatred or distrust. On Tuesday, she added two flowers on the chimney she had drawn instead of smoke.

“I hope people passing by my house can enjoy a nice smell instead of frowning at the smoke.”

Her drawings are not complete yet. She must be able to draw a big picture of her dream on a blank sheet of paper.

The author is a national news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 25, Page 29

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