NSHR investigates child abuse case

Hassna’a Mokhtar | Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2009-12-14 03:00

JEDDAH: The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) is investigating an incident depicted in a widely disseminated video clip of a man pushing a toddler into a swimming pool numerous times disregarding the look of horror on the child’s face and the water she had swallowed.

The incident, which some consider to be a traditional way to test the child’s instinct of swimming, was videotaped by a witness of the act.

The 1:16-minute video clip shows the child being pulled up before drowning and then dunked back into the water.

Some of the bystanders who are heard but not seen in the clip and appear to be young, and are heard giggling at the sight of the child choking. One youngster even tries to intervene until the man says: “Let her choke.”

The video has caused enough of a stir in the public that it was addressed on “Al-Majlis” on Ekhbariya TV on Thursday under the topic of child abuse.

NSHR President Mufleh Al-Qahtani told Al-Watan newspaper that his organization spent two days looking into the incident and that the Ministry of Social Affairs would be contacted once the investigation is completed.

Al-Qahtani said the man in the video is the girl’s father and that he might have been in his own way teaching the girl to swim. However, he said the video shows a girl being tortured in a way that could adversely affect her psychological state.

“Punishing the father is secondary,” he said. “What matters is educating society so that nothing like this is repeated.” Some Saudis who have seen the clip claim this practice on children is a common way to test their natural swimming abilities.

“I saw the video,” said Noha Al-Ghamdi, a teacher and a mother of three. “It’s a Saudi-Bedouin way to see if a kid has the instincts to swim on her own. What a bunch of retards.” Shaima Ahmad, a Saudi studying for her master’s degree in the US, watched the video on Facebook. She called for the punishment of the father.

“Seriously, how can any of us find the right words to describe how we feel about this? How funny would it have been if she actually drowned? Couldn’t they think of a better way to teach her how to swim?” said Shaima .

Khalid Bahaziq, family counselor and director of the Rapport Center, said the child might be traumatized for life and develop her own fears as a reaction to being forcefully pushed into the water.

“Violence is easy for anyone who lacks a means of communication,” said Bahaziq.

He explained how pushing the child in the water sets an example to others that using violence is the only way to instantly achieve one’s demands.

“Children grow up using the same way dealing with others,” he added. “Children seek their parents satisfaction. Violence creates rebellious streaks.”

A Bahraini journalist who saw the video told Arab News he got chills in his bones just watching the video.

“Even animals won’t intentionally put their children through such insanity in a bid to teach them survival skills,” he said. He hoped that the child does not grow up to behave like her “supposed guardians.”

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