Manama: Police in eastern Saudi Arabia needed four hours to convince a mother to allow them to take her four-year-old child, whom she had severely beaten and chained to a pipe, to be treated at a hospital.
Pictures circulated in social media showed the child lying in a narrow alley, likely behind a kitchen and chained to the pipe. Angry internet users were unable to identify the location, but called for combined efforts to free the child.
The police were eventually able on Saturday afternoon to identify the neighbourhood in Hafr Al Baten and headed to the house where they told the mother they needed to take the child to hospital to check his condition, local news site Sabq reported on Sunday.
However, the mother refused to let them take him and insisted that he was faring well, explaining that it was the first time that she had chained him to the pipe.
She said that she wanted to punish him for beating his half brother from an earlier marriage.
Following four hours of intense negotiations involving the mother, the police and members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and Family Protection, the mother and the boy were taken to a hospital.
Neighbours told the police that it was not the first time that the child was beaten and chained by the mother.
Sources told Sabq that the mother would lose the custody of her child and all the other children if doctors and specialists said there was a case of domestic violence.
Family members reportedly told the police that the child had been diagnosed with autism. However, the police said that they needed to see formal evidence supporting their claim.
In Dammam, the largest city in the Eastern Province, Prince Saud Bin Nayef Al Saud, the Governor, called for “providing the necessary assistance and care to the child” in coordination with the competent authorities.
The National Society for Human Rights said that it was monitoring the situation and that it would hold those responsible accountable for their action.
Online comments overwhelmingly agreed that the mother should be punished for torturing her child and punishing him severely.
They insisted that he should be taken away from her to protect him from her “cruelty”.
“The mother truly deserves to be whipped because a high number of lashes might put some reason in her brain,” Umm Al Karam wrote.
Saudi authorities have been pushing in nationwide campaigns for an end to domestic violence, especially in broken family homes.
Challenges include changing ultra conservative mindsets and mentalities, especially in remote areas.