Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- An investigation into the death of nine-year-old Saudi girl Ghosoon revealed that she died as a result of torture suffered at the hands of her father during the one year she remained under his custody. Ghosoon’s father divorced her mother whilst she was pregnant with Ghosoon, and the child remained with her mother for nine years until Ghosoon’s father won custody over her.
Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that forensic reports had shown that the child had been tortured as her body was covered with burnt scars and bruises as well as marks indicating the use of handcuffs. Ghosoon’s father, who left school at an early age, did not allow her to attend school claiming that she was “mentally unstable,” whilst the school’s administration argued that Ghosoon had excelled at school. Sources further highlighted that Ghosoon’s father admitted to tormenting his daughter with the help of his second wife who is presently being held at the women’s prison in Mecca. Ghosoon’s 32 year-old father has been detained at Al-Mansour police station in Mecca.
A branch of the Human Rights Association, represented by the head of the family committee, Jowhara Al-Anqary, expressed the association’s intention to investigate the crime. Al Anqary said, “Unfortunately, we were not informed of the crime that was taking place, but it will be followed up.” She added, “The information that we received shows that a request was made to the police to investigate the case as somebody had warned the police about a young girl being tortured at the hands of her father and step-mother. This crime emphasizes the importance of protecting children as well as the police taking the complaints that they receive seriously and investigating all cases of violence. Even though it is difficult to imagine that somebody would be ruthless enough to harm their own child, we must insist that the victim is not returned to the custody of their attacker. This kind of violence may and usually does lead to murder.
Al-Anqary further states, “We call firmly upon the implementation of protection (of children) and severe punishments for abusers. It is not enough that the criminal signs an agreement. As we say, society is witnessing more and more signs of violence and we believe there is a dire need to limit this phenomenon. Abusers should know that they would be liable to strong punishments for their crimes. Other potential abusers should be deterred by the punishments of other abusers. The lack of fear gives abusers the confidence to carry out their crimes.”
Dr Abdullah Youssef, a sociology professor at the University of King Saud in Riyadh, stated that Ghosoon’s father is mentally unstable due to either drug addiction or deep-rooted psychological issues. He continues, “There are a number of explanations for the actions of Ghosoon’s father. Yet it is clear that his actions are unacceptable and criminal. When trying to explain his actions, we are definitely not attempting to justify them but rather to reflect the truth of the matter.” He adds, “Most violent cases such as this one are associated with drug addiction or deep psychological problems. The question here however, is why did other members of the family not act against this terrible crime? The real question that faces us is have we reached such a state of isolation that no one would intervene to put a stop to such offenses. Where were the family, friends and neighbors when all this was taking place?” Dr Youssef asserted that the media has an important role to play in the matter saying, “Unfortunately, we observe the media celebrating the discovery of such horrific crimes rather than spreading awareness about the increase of these violent crimes, the causes and ways of preventing them. We must acknowledge the indicators of such violence and empower social institutions to tackle this phenomenon.”
Dr Youssef highlighted the importance of prevention. He said, “I am concerned with the prevention of crimes and violent crimes in particular. We must show initiative in preventing crime through researched strategies that aim to end this phenomenon rather than merely reacting to these crimes.” He adds, “We must consider family and society as examples of the most important safety networks that could eliminate these kinds of cases. It is odd that a child was murdered in such a way considering we are meant to be a tight knit society.”