Abused’ American girl, 11, Reunited with Mother

Source: New Straits Times ( Malaysia)

PETALING JAYA – An 11-year-old American girl, who claimed she was constantly abused by her Malaysian father, was yesterday reunited with her mother and is set to begin a new life in Indiana, United States.

The girl and her mother, a 28-year-old restaurant worker in Indiana, cried uncontrollably outside the Court for Children here when they were reunited after six years yesterday.

The mother was flown in here by the US embassy after the plight of the girl reached the courts last week.

For the past six years, the mother had been under the notion that she would never be able to see her child again. The girl was listed as “abducted” in the US.

It was alleged that the girl’s father had abducted the girl after falsifying her documents and bringing her here six years ago.

The mother was contacted by the embassy here last week after the girl came to the attention of welfare authorities here and arrangements were made for the child to be reunited with her mother.

The mother has re-married and has two other children, a boy aged 7 and a 5-year-old girl.

Yesterday, after magistrate Nor Afidah Idris ordered that the girl be placed in her mother’s custody, mother and daughter hugged each other tightly and cried.

The girl’s father, who was present with several relatives, stood by and watched. He was later seen in a discussion with his lawyer.

Also present in court were representatives from the embassy, non-governmental organisations and several parents and teachers from the girl’s school.

Counsel representing the mother and daughter, Pramodini Nair, said the girl’s father was present during the closed-door proceedings.

“He did not deny he had abused his daughter. There were also several reports lodged against him over the abuses,” Nair said.

The father, a computer technician who is currently unemployed, has also remarried and has four children from his second marriage.

The girl had told her teachers that she had studied in three schools in the past five years. At her last school, parents of other children started taking notice of her when they saw her eating leftovers at the canteen.

She was also seen stealing money from other children to buy food.

The school authorities were informed and after questioning the girl, they learnt that she had been abused. Marks and bruises on her arms and back convinced the school authorities that her story was true.

The school and the parent-teacher association lodged a police report before sending her for a medical examination. They also informed the Welfare Department which then got a court order last week to place the girl in a “safe house” before she could be reunited with her mother.

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