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Friday, January 14, 2011

Task force to probe sex abuse claims

GEORGE TOWN: Police have set up a task force to speed up investigations into the alleged sexual abuse of as many as 20 boys and girls in a children’s home.
A boy and a girl from the home were taken to the Penang Hospital for examination on Wednesday night. They are alleged to have been raped and sodomised.
Police also spent several hours recording statements from a number of children at the home until late Wednesday following a report lodged by a woman at the Patani Road police station at about 4pm the same day.
The 41-year-old businesswoman, who wished to be known only as Lim, claimed some of the children had described the home as “hell.”
Lim, a member of a non-governmental organisation, alleged that about 20 children were sexually abused when they were under the care of the home between 2005 and last year.
She said she would visit the home several times a year to bring daily necessities to the children.
“On Dec 13 last year, a group of about 10 children came to my office to see me. I thought the home brought them over but they were on their own,” she said.
She scolded them when they complained it was “hell at the centre”, telling them to be grateful to the home for taking care of them.
“A 15-year-old boy then told me he had been molested by a male volunteer,” she said, adding she then told the boy that he was being too sensitive as the volunteer was just being friendly.
“The boy asked me if I wanted him to be sodomised a second time. He asked me if I wanted him to touch me to see if it was considered molest.
Then I knew something was wrong,” she said.
Lim added that the boy told her he was first sodomised in 2005 when he was nine.
“The victim tried to complain to the home but both he and the offender were punished,” she said.
Lim said the boy told her that he was subsequently also forced to perform oral sex on others – and was blamed for the mischief.
“He was punished and isolated in a room for three months. He uttered vulgar words out of frustration and was isolated for another three months,” she said.
She said the girl, who is now nine, alleged that she was sexually abused by several people when she was eight.
“It broke my heart when they told me that. Even though they are at a children’s centre, they need care and dignity, too,” she said.
On Dec 29 last year, Lim said she went to the home with the boy’s aunt and four Welfare Department officers with the intention of bringing the boy and his sister out.
Lim said she had since been helping the two children by providing schooling aid and also giving them pocket money.
The home is scheduled to hold a press conference today. - theStar

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