Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 4 News List

NGOs `not able' to remove abused boy

MISSING FACTS Chao Lin of the Taiwan Women and Children Association said the mother of a boy who was killed did not tell the organization he was being abused

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) rebutted allegations yesterday that they had stood by while a three-year-old Taichung boy suffered years of physical abuse that ended with his death on Friday.

Chen Chin-nian (陳金年), 25, inflicted years of abuse on her nephew, whose mother recently finished serving a two-year prison sentence for selling counterfeit DVDs, media reports said.

Chen had threatened to beat the boy unless his mother, Lee Fu-chen (黎馥甄), 21, gave her NT$400,000 (US$12,140), reports said.

Following her release from jail, Lee said she didn't know where her son was, after entrusting Chen with his care during her prison sentence.

The single mother urgently sought help from the Taichung County Government and two NGOs, the Taiwan Women and Children Association and the Child Welfare League Foundation.

Police yesterday said they found a baseball bat, beer bottles and a rope that were used to beat and strangle the boy in Chen's home.

Chen Ya-hui (陳雅惠) of the Child Welfare League Foundation blamed the Tainan County Government's social affairs bureau for the tragedy, saying it was "understaffed."

"The situation is such that each social worker is juggling 100 cases at a time. They can't get around to checking some problem households on their schedule for up to half a year,," she said in a phone interview with the Taipei Times.

Taiwan Women and Children Association spokeswoman Chao Lin (趙琳) said the bureau "definitely had those problems."

Both NGOs told the Taipei Times that Lee had called them.

"We suggested she call the local child abuse prevention center because we're not legally able to intervene in such cases," Chen Ya-hui said, adding that her foundation called Lee back two days later to check up on her.

Chao said that Lee called to ask her association for NT$100,000 to rescue her son.

"She didn't mention anything about the abuse," Chao said.

"Lee herself is not an innocent character. This was a very complex family situation," Chao said, adding "we couldn't just give out cash like that. That's illegal."

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