Girl’s death stirs German outrage over child neglect

The death by starvation of a three-year-old girl in Germany has sparked a round of soul-searching on how to combat rising child neglect in the country.

The girl’s death on Monday in Nuremberg has led to accusations of government failure in tackling child abuse and recriminations against social services, pushing the issue to the fore as a September 27 federal election looms.

Deutsche Kinderhilfe, a leading children’s aid group, called the three-year-old Sarah ”another victim of political inactivity”, prompting Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen to press for the introduction of a new child protection law as soon as possible.

”Child protection cannot wait,” Von der Leyen, a mother of seven, told Reuters in an interview. ”We need this law to be brought in right after the election.”

The tragedy was just one in a slew of incidents that have risen to national prominence in the run-up to the vote.

Von der Leyen was speaking as a court in the eastern city of Chemnitz on Wednesday handed down an eight-year jail sentence for manslaughter to a mother who allowed her two-year-old boy to die of thirst and starvation over Christmas in 2007.

That same day, a 19-year-old went on trial in Nuremberg accused of torturing his girlfriend’s baby daughter.

A day earlier, a baby girl was found dead in a plastic bag in Stuttgart, while on Monday authorities charged a 21-year-old from the town of Biesenthal with killing her newborn twins.

”There’s been a shocking run of cases of child abuse and neglect,” said Paula Honkanen-Schoberth, managing director of the German Child Protection Federation.

”We’re starting to see more political awareness of the problem, but it’s yet to be followed up by increased readiness to come up with the funding for it,” she said. — Reuters

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