(MENAFN - Arab News) The father and stepmother of a nine-year-old girl who died from torture-related injuries have been arrested.
Makkah police spokesman Lt. Col. Abdul Mohsen Al-Maiman said police in Aziziya has referred the case file on the victim, identified as Rouzan, to the department for handling violence at the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution for further investigation before it is filed at the local court.
"Forensic surgeons will carry out the child's postmortem to ascertain the actual causes of the death," he said.
An official of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) told Arab News that a staff shortage is apparently the reason for the society's failure to follow up on the case of the expatriate victim, who had been subjected to torture and physical abuse for a long time. A team of women social experts and researchers from NSHR has contacted on Wednesday officials of the Makkah education department to inquire about the measures taken in her case.
Rouzan, who was admitted to a private hospital in Makkah with multiple wounds and bruises on her body a few days ago, succumbed to her injuries Sunday. It was discovered in medical tests that the girl sustained serious wounds on her head and other parts of body as a result of continuous torture allegedly by her father and stepmother.
In a complaint lodged with the Makkah police, Rouzan's relatives alleged that the girl had been suffering from domestic abuse over the last five years, and the torture was intensified after the death of her mother eight months ago.
Speaking to Arab News, Maatouq Al-Sharief, member of NSHR, said the school authorities had obtained a written pledge from her father and stepmother at the end of the last academic year not to harass the child. This was after Rouzan's teacher noticed marks on the girl's body.
"The commission had intervened in the case at that time but nothing was heard about her until her death. This is mainly because Rouzan's father and stepmother stopped sending her to school from the beginning of the new academic year," he said.
Al-Sharief disclosed plans of NSHR to take up the case against the father and stepmother if they are found to be involved in her death.
Replying to questions from Arab News about the society's failure in following up on the case of Rouzan after its intervention in the matter last year, Al-Sharief attributed this to a shortage of staff members. "In spite of this situation, cases of domestic violence, especially against children are on the rise in the Kingdom. Moreover, the society's activities cover many other areas and issues," he said, while underlining the need for creating more civilian organizations to tackle such problems.
He also expressed his unhappiness over the state of affairs in this regard by saying: "The Saudi National Commission for Child Welfare, which was formed in 2007, still awaits a license from the Ministry of Social Affairs."