Starvation Death in Britain, Parents Charged With Neglect

by Gopalan on  May 23, 2008 at 11:36 AM General Health News
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 Starvation Death in Britain, Parents Charged With Neglect
A shocking case of starvation death is doing the rounds in Britain. Only it is not clear whether it all arose out of poverty alone. Parents have been charged with neglect.

Khyra Ishaq was found with her five brothers and sisters living in squalid conditions in a house in Birmingham.

Police discovered Ishaq and her brothers and sisters in an emaciated state after an ambulance was called to treat the dying girl.

Neighbours later claimed the children were seen eating bread left out for the birds.

Angela Gordon, 33, and 29-year-old Junaid Abuhamza - believed to be their mother and step-father - appeared before magistrates on Monday, charged with neglect and were remanded in custody.

Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood called for an investigation into the city's social services after it emerged that Khyra and the other children had been taken out of school nearly three months ago amid claims of bullying.

"There are structural issues here within the local authority that need to be addressed," he said.

"I will be asking the local authority at the first available opportunity to account for their inaction. There are lessons to be learned here - we have to be far more stringent with people who don't take their children to school."

Mahmood, who is writing to the chief executive of Birmingham City Council, said he had been told that an educational social worker visited Khyra's home after the children were removed from school, but no further follow-up checks took place.

"I just find that amazing. It just beggars belief that we have allowed this to happen, especially when an educational social worker has been once... and then no action at all," he said.

Meanwhile parents dropping children off at Grove School, Handsworth, where Khyra was a pupil, spoke of their shock at her death.

Renata Palczewska, 26, said: "The teacher, when she told me, was almost in tears. She was very upset. She knew the girl.

"The school gave us a letter but they couldn't give us much information. I can't believe this could happen, you would expect someone to notice."

Neighbours are also angrily asking why their schools did not raise the alarm when their mother removed them more than two months ago, claiming they were being bullied for wearing Muslim clothes.

West Midlands Police said in a statement: "We can confirm that a seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital on Saturday 17 May, where she was pronounced dead.

"Her cause of death has not been confirmed at this stage.

"Police are conducting inquiries and a man aged 29 and a woman aged 33 have been charged with neglect and appeared before Birmingham Magistrates on May 19.

"They have been remanded to appear again on 28 May. As proceedings are active, we cannot comment further at this time."

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said they were fully supporting a police inquiry into the matter.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of this child and our sympathies go to the child's family and friends at this difficult time.

"This death is now the subject of a police inquiry and Birmingham City Council are fully supporting the investigation."

The awful death of Khyra Ishaq raises disturbing questions about how she could have been allowed to die and whether she was failed by those supposed to protect vulnerable children, writes David Williams in Daily Mail.

Inquiries will centre on what was known about Khyra, her background, her family and whether they were on the "at risk" register of social workers and child protection officers.

The death will also raise questions as to whether the lessons have been learnt from the horrific case of Victoria Climbie who, when she died in February 2000 aged eight, weighed only 3st 10lb.

The Climbie case was meant to have been a watershed. An exhaustive inquiry, chaired by Lord Laming, made more than 100 recommendations for reform, including the creation of a children's commissioner to head a national agency.

The key theme of his subsequent report was that agencies such as schools, hospitals, social services and the police would automatically share information about children thought to be at risk.

Victoria had been sent to Britain by her parents, who hoped she would gain a better education than in her native Ivory Coast home.

But she was starved, beaten with coat hangers and bicycle chains, bound naked and kept prisoner in a freezing bathroom in a squalid flat in Haringey, North London.

There were more than 128 injuries to her tiny body when she died.

Marie-Therese Kouao, Victoria's great aunt, and her lover Carl Manning were convicted of murder and child cruelty in January 2001 and jailed for life.

Highlighting a shameful catalogue of errors, Lord Laming said Victoria could have been saved if police, social workers and doctors had done their jobs properly.

There were failings at every stage in every organisation that had a responsibility to her, he said.

Some of the social work was called a "disgrace" but the greatest failing was among senior people who were accused of "incompetence" and "buck-passing."

Victoria was seen by dozens of social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers before she died but all failed to spot and stop the abuse as she was slowly tortured to death.

Lord Laming's year-long public inquiry identified social service departments at four London boroughs, two police forces, two hospitals and a specialist children's unit which all failed to act when presented with evidence of abuse.

There have been several more court cases involving the wilful neglect or abuse of a child, David Williams writes in Daily Mail.

Source: Medindia

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