I read this in The Standard, this morning and it’s news like this that make me sad :
Friday, March 13, 2009
A woman who a judge said treated her four daughters worse than pets was jailed for two years yesterday. Her estranged husband, a sewage worker, was given one year and 10 months.
Man Ching-yee, 29, and Lin Ka-shing, 31, had pleaded guilty to four counts of ill-treatment and neglect after the youngest of their four daughters – aged just three months – died of infant death syndrome in 2007.
The court had been told that prior to the girl’s death, the children had been looked after by the oldest daughter, then aged eight. She had to cook and feed her younger siblings. The four girls were often at home alone. Even when the couple was at home, they did not feed the infant, help the girls change or give them clean clothes to wear. At the time of the youngest girl’s death, the mother was at a bar with friends while the father was asleep.
In passing sentence, District Court judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap said he could not accept the defense’s contention the mother had less than average intelligence. “I don’t believe her intelligence could be lower than her eight-year-old daughter,” Yau said. Yau said the couple was irresponsible for having four girls regardless of their economic situation or their abilities to take care of them.
He said he accepted the death of the infant was not the direct result of child abuse. Nevertheless, the care the infant received prior to her death must have been a very bad experience for her. He said the greater responsibility in this case lay with the mother, hence the two-year term, compared with one year and 10 months for the father. The couple filed for divorce after the death of the child.
Neighbors complained to social workers about the children being left alone at home as far back as 2006.
On one occasion a social worker found the diaper of one of the daughters, 10 months old at the time, to be completely soaked and no food nor clean water at home. The eldest and the second youngest daughters were then being looked after by relatives, but the eldest returned after Man gave birth to the fourth daughter.
The three girls are now under the care of their grandmother and an institution.