A case of almost
unspeakable child abuse has emerged from China. (Warning: this story
contains content some may find distressing.)
An 11-year-old girl was found walking on a road in the town of Shichang in China's southwestern Guizhou Province on May 8.
According to local news reports, the girl was talking to herself and occasionally shouting abuse at passers-by.
A man, named locally as Mr Fu, approached the young girl and discovered
she had scars all over her body. On her scalp were scalded patches. She
was missing much of her hair.
Other villagers then told Mr Fu that the girl's name was Xiao Li. They
admitted that they knew she was the victim of abuse by her father, a man
they named only as Yang.
Mr Fu called the police, who quickly arrested Yang. Only then was the full horror subjected upon Xiao Li revealed.
The 11-year-old's mouth had been stitched up with fishing cord, her
head had been dipped in boiling water, her skin had been pierced with
sewing needles, she had been forced to kneel on a floor covered with
broken glass and she had been hung upside down and beaten with ropes and
Photographs taken of Xiao Li in hospital this week showed fresh wounds on her knees, and older scars all over her body.
Doctors say the hair on her head is unlikely ever to grow back because
of the abnormal temperatures her scalp has been subjected to.
Although she is 11, she looks much younger, suggesting that she has been malnourished for most or all of her life.
The long list of abuses was established through a combination of
medical examinations and police interviews with her father, who is said
to have admitted his crimes.
According to an interview given by the girl’s grandmother, Xiao Li's
parents left home shortly after she was born to find work elsewhere in
For five years, Xiao Li was looked after by her grandparents. Her father then returned and the abuse began.
In the interview, the grandmother claimed that she knew about the abuse
but could do nothing to stop it. She said that Xiao Li's father - her
son - abused her too.
"He sometimes even beat me along with her, using tobacco stems hitting
my back, hitting my head with pot lids," she was quoted as saying.
On occasion, Xiao Li would flee her father's house and attempt to seek
some safety in her grandmother's house. Her father would chase her and
beat her again. The grandmother was unable to explain why her son was so
It has emerged that the police had been aware of at least one incident of abuse by Yang in October last year.
Villagers had reported an incident in which the young girl's head was dipped into boiling water.
The police questioned Yang, who claimed that he had put her head into a
pot of boiling water in an attempt to rid her of head lice. The police
had ordered Yang to take her to hospital, but the matter was not
Sky News has been unable establish what role Xiao Li's mother played in her upbringing.
Xiao Li is now recovering in hospital. The costs of her medical care
have been waived and the local authorities claim to be organising an
extensive programme of psychological treatment.
Chen Yuefang, a local government official, said they are now seeking
guardians to look after Xiao Li for the remainder of her childhood
because her grandparents are too elderly to do so.
Mr Chen also pledged that checks would be made on all children in the town to ensure such an incident is not repeated.