The father of a 10-month-old baby girl who sustained second-degree burns over 90 percent of her body after being thrown into a pot of boiling water on Saturday may face murder charges after she died yesterday morning.
The doctors said the infant, surnamed Huang, died from multiple organ failure.
“We respected the mother’s wish not to defibrillate or perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and we gave the baby all the medication we could, including antibiotics. Unfortunately, the girl left us at 10:05am,” Changhua Christian Hospital emergency room supervisor Chou Chih-chung (周志中) said.
Chou said that for a short time, the girl’s condition seemed to have improved, but it took a nosedive on Monday night. The mother signed an agreement instructing doctors not to resuscitate her again after the girl’s heart had been defibrillated three times.
“It was just too painful for her,” the mother said.
The baby girl had reportedly been thrown into boiling water by her father during a fight with his girlfriend, the girl’s mother. Acquaintances said the couple had a rocky relationship and that the man was often drunk and abusive to his family.
The mother reportedly dared the man after he threatened to throw the infant into water being used to make noodles. By the time the woman scooped her daughter out of the scalding water, the girl’s skin was already fused with her clothing and the skin and flesh of her arm and legs was peeling off, police said.
The mother told reporters yesterday that she was not aware her boyfriend had thrown the girl into the pot until she stirred the noodles.
“He is too cruel. I will never give him a second chance,” she said.
Because of the girl’s death, the father could be charged with murder rather than attempted murder, Changhwa District Prosecutors’ Office spokesperson Chang Hwei-chiung (張慧瓊) said yesterday.
If convicted of murder, the man could face execution or at least 10 years in prison, Chang said.
And “because the victim was a child, a prison sentence could be extended by one-half [of the original sentence],” she said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday urged the Ministry of the Interior to include alcoholics and those who have been unemployed for a long period of time in the ministry’s database for observation in a bid to prevent potential domestic violence and child abuse.
KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) told a press conference that the case highlighted the severity of child abuse and domestic violence.
He urged the government to establish a platform through which government agencies would be better able to share related information.
Deputy Director of the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training Liao Wei-jen (廖為仁), who also attended the conference, said interviewers at local employment service stations would continue to evaluate job-seekers for potential cases of domestic violence or child abuse when helping them find jobs.
Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) on Monday vowed to pour more resources into reducing domestic violence by expanding its database of high-risk families.
At present, the database only includes children whose parents have alcohol and drug addictions or families that often have arguments.
The ministry also urged the public not to clog up the 1-1-3 children’s and women’s services hotline after a group of KMT lawmakers dialed the number at a press conference to “check up on the efficiency” of the service.
The operators, recognizing the call was made by the lawmakers, immediately asked them not to clog up the line.
The ministry asked the public not to dial 113 unless they have a genuine case to report.
Those who are caught calling the hotline for other purposes could be fined from NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 as stipulated in the Family Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法).
Meanwhile, several organizations yesterday urged parents not to treat their children as emotional punching bags and asked the public to immediately report any parents suspected of abuse.
“What happened with baby Huang is truly heart-wrenching. It is regrettable that there are still many parents who teach their children by using corporal punishment. Some even treat their children as emotional punching bags, tools of revenge or a bargaining chip in spousal disputes,” Child Welfare League Foundation Executive-director Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.
Oung Hui-yuan (翁慧圓), the head of the Social Resources Department of the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, said: “During this time of economic tsunami, many unemployed parents are under heavy pressure. If somehow these parents feel they can not no longer keep their frustration in check, they should muster up the courage to seek help from friends and families or relevant organizations.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHELLEY HUANG AND FLORA WANG
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