THAILAND : Kidnapped Ethnic Karen Girl Enslaved By Cruel Thai Couple
A 12-year-old Karen girl was kidnapped at age 7 by an abusive Thai couple, who detained her as their household servant for five years in Kamphaeng Phet province. The girl finally escaped and the police were notified. The couple was arrested, but denied all charges and were released on bail.
KAMPHAENG PHET – February 11, 2013 [PDN]; a reporter went to investigate a report of a girl who had been kidnapped and held as a household servant for five years. She was being sheltered at the house of Children and FamilIies in Kamphaengphet province. The shelter had picked up girl “Air” (alias) age 12, a native of the Burmese Karen ethnic group.
She had been kidnapped by a Thai couple to be their servant and detained in their house in Amphur Meuang, Kamphaeng Phet province for more than 5 years. During that time, whenever the girl didn’t obey their commands, she would be subjected to cruelties by the couple, such as being kept in the dog’s cage, or hot water was poured all over her body that left scars.
When the reporters arrived at the shelter, they found its director, Mr. Thanawat Sathit, sitting and talking to the girl Air. She has scars from being scalded by hot water all over her body and her two arms were scalded by hot water until it affected the muscles connected with her body until she cannot lift or move her arms.
During questioning, the girl Air described being abducted. Her parents were Karen workers working in a sugarcane field in Amphur Meuang, Kamphaengphet province in the year 2008. At that time she was 7 years old.Then a couple who owned a nearby field walked to her and called her to come visit them. With innocence the girl Air walked after them, and was kidnapped by the couple and kept in their house.
They forced her to do the housework for more than 5 years until she finally escaped a few days ago. The wounds on her body occurred from being scalded by hot water, and she had been detained in the dog’s cage. Then the couple used saline to wash her wounds and applied the medicine for her without sending her to the hospital.
“For the past 5 years I was done cruelness by the owner of the house in many ways and they ordered me to do all the housework,” the girl Air said. “If they got unsatisfied they would hit me all over body until I got injured. Sometimes they also slapped at my face and beat me, and if I cried, they would beat me harder until I didn’t dare to shout for assistance from anyone.”
She continued, “In the past 5 years, I felt as if I was in hell. Once I tried to escape about three years ago. But there was someone who sent me to the police, and the police took me back to the house owners again. My running away made them so much angry, they hit my head against the wall, and used a shoe to slap at my face, and used the scissors to cut at my ears for punishment.”
The girl Air said she only ate twice a day as a servant, and never went out anywhere, until on January 31, 2013, the pet cat being fed by the couple ran out from the house. The girl Air was afraid that she would be punished by the couple again, so she climbed the fence to catch the cat. But while she was outside, she had the sudden thought that it was a good occasion to try and escape again. So she ran to ask for assistance from good people to bring her to the house of Children and Families.
Mr. Thanawat Sathit, the head of the house, said the girl is now safe and under the care of the house, with food, a bed and clothes. The security guard is here to take care of her safety, and Mr. Thanawat will arrange for the psychologist to assist to restore the girl’s mind.
On February 2, the shelter officials then notified Pol. Maj. Suwicha Techawannavuth, investigation officer, Kamphaengphet police station, to prosecute the couple. On February 6, after the police had gathered all evidence, they asked for the arrest warrant to arrest the couple who are the owner of the house.
The warrant accuses them of together beating another person’s body with cruel actions until she was severely injured, and together detained another person that caused them to get severely injured, and together detained another person and forced that person do any service for them or others, and together treated the person as a slave, and together took the person from their rightful place and detained that person and if that action is done with a child not over age 15 until that children got severely injured, together they are charged with kidnapping the child whose age is not over 15 and together doing human trade, totalling 5 accusations by which the police went to arrest them on February 7, 2013.
In the same day, Pol. Col. Akkarasorn Srisuphat, Superintendent, Kamphaengphet police station, said that in this case the officers of the house of Children and Families, Kamphaenphet province, had brought girl Air to notify with the investigation officer to prosecute Mr. Nathee Taeng-orn, age 35, the engineer of a factory in Kamphaengphet province; and Ms. Rattanakorn Piyavoratharm, age 33, the owner of dog grooming shop in Amphur Meuang, Kamphaengphet province.
The arrest warrant alleges that the incidents of abuse occurred continuously from May 20, 2008 until January 31, 2013 at the house address at 193 Moo 8 Tambon Mahachai, Amphur Sai-ngarm, Kamphaengphet province to the house address 7/7 Soi 25 Ratchadamnern road, Tambon Nai Meuang, Amphur Meuang, Kamphaengphet province.
However, the two suspects denied all of accusations and asked to testify in their defense about the matter in the court, and asked to be released on bail in the meantime.
In this case the police didn’t attempt to conceal the case, but because the victim is a child and is a foreign national, which is a delicate matter in protecting the child and her stability, therefore the police need to gather the witnesses and present evidences clearly, for which if the suspects really did what the girl claimed, they will be received the maximum penalty of lifetime prison sentences.
Later, the reporter went to inspect the house of the suspects, and found that the house was closed quietly. He heard a report that the couple had gone out to live in the other place.
UPDATE 19.02.2013 A Bt100,000 reward will be offered for information on the hiding place of a couple charged with detaining and torturing a 12-year-old Karen girl after they failed to report by yesterday’s deadline, police said.
“We will forfeit their bond and seek arrest warrants for them,” said Pol Colonel Akkasorn Srisupat, superintendent of Muang Kamphaeng Phet Police Station.