SINGAPORE – A Singaporean woman who was the principal of a childcare center in Malaysia is said to have abused an autistic child in her care.
Sharifah Mazlan, 51, was arrested on October 3 in Ampang Jaya, Malaysia.
In a statement on Monday (October 11), Ampang Jaya Police Chief Mohamad Farouk Eshak said the Malaysian police had completed their investigations and had referred the case to the prosecutor.
He said Sharifah would be prosecuted for neglecting a child and staying too long.
She worked as the principal of the Maikidz Care Center in Selangor, Malaysia.
Childcare focuses on children with special needs, with seven such children in their care.
The center’s website stated that Sharifah had 16 years of teaching experience and the center also offered training for parents and teachers on how to deal with children with special needs.
But on October 3, a parent of a six-year-old claimed that the principal had abused his son in an incident on October 1.
The man said in a Facebook post that his autistic son was a student at the center and would sometimes return home with bruises on his face and body.
He initially thought that these were from the fact that he accidentally encountered things while he was active in the center.
But on October 1, he found marks on his son’s back that he said could not have been self-inflicted.
The man’s post contained photos of the child, with visible bruises on his forehead, next to his right eye and on his left shoulder.
It also included a 47-second security camera footage that allegedly came from the center showing the incident.
In the video, a woman can be seen trying to feed a boy who did not want to eat his food.
When he protests, she raises her palm and he immediately protects his face with both hands.
Later he runs away, but is quickly grabbed by the woman, pulled and lifted into the air.
The woman violently hits him in the chair and pushes it forward and makes the boy sneak forward in a table before he is forced to eat again.
Another woman is seen in the video that casually sweeps the area around the boy and the woman.
The post has been shared more than 27,000 times, causing outrage from many, including Malaysia’s Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Rina Mohd Harun, who said tough and swift action would be taken.
Malaysian police said the center, which has been operating for seven years, had an expired license.
They also said that Sharifah was found to be an overplayer with an expired social calling card.
Although the child care center claimed that it was run by an eight-man team, the police revealed that Sharifah only had three other employees in the center.
Those convicted of neglecting a child in Malaysia could face up to 20 years in prison and be fined.
Offenders in Malaysia can be imprisoned for up to five years, fined up to RM10 000 ($ 3250) and receive up to six blows of sugar cane.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission is required for reproduction.