18 сентября 2014 01:53

Cradle hell of a year-old in Kazakhstan


©lada.kz ©lada.kz

Reader discretion advised. The story contains disturbing images. 

Reader discretion advised. The story contains disturbing images. 

It was a hot day in western Kazakhstan. In August, temperature under the scorching sun went to 40 degrees Centigrade and over. Most people were keeping in the shade or staying at home. Those who had no choice, went about their business in a mechanical way in the heat that blunted senses.

A paramedic was walking down the street in Kazakhstan’s city of Aktau when he saw an odd picture. A small child was lying in a cradle, tied to it, under the burning sunlight.

"The child was tied lying in a cradle out in the street. In this hot weather. His unnatural thinness and very dirty clothes caught my eye. I called an ambulance," Tengrinews reports citing the Munaily District paramedic as quoted by Lada.kz.

The child was taken to the hospital. Police arrived to the boy’s house along with the ambulance.

The boy’s name is Aknur Myrzabai. (According to some sources his name is Beknur Myrzabai.)  He was taken to the hospital on August 31 and is currently being treated there. Up until this day his fate remains uncertain.

In the hospital it was found that Aknur had been tied to the cradle for most of his life. Doctors who examined the one-year-old discovered severe wasting of muscles, bruises on his face and head and festering sores on the buttocks. Worms were nested in his deep bedsores under the dirty diapers. Besides, the boy was very hungry.

"Upon admission the child was very dirty. From the examination record it follows that he has an average dystrophy, which means he weighs twice less than normal for his age. He has neurological disorders, too. The boy is restless; he does not speak or respond to voice. He is over a year but due to muscle wasting he cannot even sit. This implies that for most of his life, the child was tied to the cradle and remained almost motionless," Nazgul Kisikbasova, a pediatric hematologist at Mangistau Oblast Children's Hospital said.

Aknur’s grandmother, however, declared that the child was receiving all the attention and care he needed. “We are looking after him well. Feeding and washing him when necessary,” the woman said.

Apparently, feeding “when necessary” means letting the child be half his normal weight. Washing “when necessary” means letting worms nest in your beloved grandchild’s bedsores. How long does it take for a baby to stay in dirty diapers for worms to grow and then eat through a hole in a buttock? 

The child was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy and staphylococcus aureus, according to Maria Aldabergenova, a neurologist at the Children's Hospital of Mangistau Oblast, where Aknur is at. The boy's condition was aggravated by lack of proper care. "The consequences of such a treatment by relatives are reversible. But he needs care, attention and love," she said.

The boy's father denied he was treating the child cruelly and said Aknur was taken to the hospital only because his last name was different from his father's. There are no documents confirming the man is Aknur’s father. He claims he has not been officially married to the boy's mother, which is why his name is not on Aknur’s birth certificate. He also said his son was taken to the hospital because he had “little scratches on his bottom”.

This video is in Russian, but it shows the surroundings of little Aknur, the house, in which he lived, and the man who claims to be his father. This man answers journalist’s questions without any visible sign of worry or empathy. He repeatedly adds that he could not have been cruel to his own son.

In the meantime, the mother of the child is nowhere to be found. The grandma says she left for Shymkent 2 months ago. The father confirmed that the boy's mother was breast-feeding the baby, but then left. He adds that his ex-lover went missing. In any case, he now lives with a different woman, who he claims cares for his children.

The police initially started collecting evidence of child abuse. But declared on September 4 that they found no foul play was involved - the police found no components of crime in the family's treatment of the child. 

"Law enforcement officers are gathering materials for the case. We are questioning the neighbors and relatives of the boy. Currently, based on the testimony of the respondents, no foul play on part of parents against the child have been found," said the spokesman of Mangistau Oblast Department of Internal Affairs.

“Until the paternity is established the child will stay in the Baby House,” he added, but did not specify who will pay for the paternity test that costs $300. 

The next day, however, it was reported that the father of the child would bear administrative responsibility - he may be fined $50-100.

"He will be brought to administrative responsibility under the Article 111 of the Code on Administrative Offences "Failure of parents or other legal representatives to fulfill child-rearing responsibilities". (..) We have also filed a report to the competent authorities requesting for him to be deprive of his paternal rights,” the press-service of Mangistau Oblast Department of Internal Affairs informed on September 5.

The press service explained that they could not prosecute the parents because no foul play was found. “He did not torture his son,” they said in the press service. One might wonder what would have constituted a torture then, cutting off a leg?

About a month ago Aknur, who could neither sit nor walk, reportedly “fell” and injured his pelvis so badly that it had to be put in plaster. The doctors advised not taking it off. "The day before the boy was discovered, it appeared that a strange smell started spreading from the plaster," the press service said.

Does this mean that doctors had actually seen the condition of the boy and how he had to live or rather survive, and no one raised alarm? Or does this mean that the plaster helped cause the infestation of worms in the boy's buttocks?

Commenting on the situation, Munaily District ambulance doctor Kamish Khasanov said that not only parents but also the doctors had to be held accountable since they had not raised alarm in time.

"The doctors are silent. Everyone is afraid of losing his position as there are no more jobs. And in a situation with Aknur it is most likely the same reason, which is why they did not "notice" his condition," the physician said.

Khasanov was outraged that more often than not people had children for social benefits and otherwise did not care for their offspring. The doctor believes that Aknur became a victim of such circumstances.

But maybe something will change after Aknur’s case is brought to light. Khasanov said that after the cruelty of Aknur’s situation was made public, there has been some progress in other similar families. “Many families have five children and don’t own even a thermometer. Now when we come, we see them start doing something for their children, fussing around, buying at least some basic medicine," the doctor said.

Khasanov’s words suggest that Aknur’s situation is but a part of a larger, more disturbing picture. One would hope that these horrific revelations would bring changes on a broader scale.

A criminal investigation has been started, but there are no names on the list of the accused. Deputy Prosecutor of Munaily district Zhambyl Bayatar said on September 12 that the case is under the Article 137 of the Criminal Code “Non-Execution of Obligations to Raise an Underage Child”. But it is unclear who is to bear the responsibility – is it the mother who is somewhere off the map, or the man with whom Aknur lived, who is probably his biological father? Or is it someone else? The case is brought against unidentified persons.

"So far we have just initiated a case, the circle of perpetrators will be determined during the course of the investigation. A DNA test was ordered to establish paternity of the man," Bayatar said. He confirmed that Aknur’s mother had not been found and that documents to deprive her of her parental rights were being readied. In addition, a request was sent to the police of South Kazakhstan Oblast to help find the woman who allegedly went to Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan.

The Deputy Prosecutor confirmed that the child's medical history and physicians' statements would be added to the file after the severity of the damage to Aknur’s health would be clearly determined.

Upon completion of the investigation the case may be brought under a more severe Article 138 of the Criminal Code “Improper Execution of Obligations to Provide for the Safety of Life and Health of Children” that provides for a fine of $50 thousand, up to 2 year of correctional labor or up to 2 years in prison.

What makes one uneasy is the fact that apart from Aknur, there are also two girls being raised in the family. Bayatar said that actions are taken to check their physical and mental health. “If the results show that they have not been receiving proper care, the issue of their future will be raised," Bayatar said.

In the meantime, Aknur is already feeling better. Thanks to intensive feeding and vitamins Aknur is quickly gaining weight. The doctors have also noticed improvement in his neurological state.

“During the week spent in pediatrics, the child started gaining weight and became less hectic. He has been transferred to the neurological department for further treatment. But we see positive changes in his condition: he began to focus his sight, keep track of moving objects. He has generally become more active,” Maria Aldabergenova said on September 9.

How long is this brighter side to last for Aknur?

What happened to this little boy has shocked Kazakhstan. Motives behind people's actions can be puzzling and at times disturbing.

By Dinara Urazova

The video and photos are courtesy of Lada.kz.

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