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MSF faces scrutiny over adoption oversight in horrific sexual abuse case

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is under intense scrutiny following a disturbing case where a young girl, in the process of being adopted, was sexually abused nearly every day for about three months.

This abuse occurred under the watch of a 39-year-old man who, along with his wife, was set to adopt her. The tragedy of this case is compounded by the fact that during this period, the girl was under the care of MSF and was being monitored by a team of professionals.

In a detailed statement, MSF revealed, “During this period, the professionals did not detect sexual abuse concerns, nor did the young person disclose the abuse to them until she told her school teacher in Nov 2020.” This statement has raised questions about the ministry’s role and the effectiveness of their monitoring systems.

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The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is under intense scrutiny following a disturbing case where a young girl, in the process of being adopted, was sexually abused nearly every day for about three months.

This abuse occurred under the watch of a 39-year-old man who, along with his wife, was set to adopt her. The tragedy of this case is compounded by the fact that during this period, the girl was under the care of MSF and was being monitored by a team of professionals.

In a detailed statement, MSF revealed, “During this period, the professionals did not detect sexual abuse concerns, nor did the young person disclose the abuse to them until she told her school teacher in Nov 2020.”

This statement has raised questions about the ministry’s role and the effectiveness of their monitoring systems.

The girl, now 19 years old, faced a history of trauma, including witnessing her mother’s suicide in 2017 and being sexually abused by her father in 2018.

She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and had a history of self-harm. The MSF placed her in a treatment centre aimed at helping girls who have suffered trauma or abuse.

The convicted man, a manager at a company conducting camps for children, met the girl at this treatment center and, along with his wife, agreed to adopt her.

They were made aware of the girl’s traumatic past and her mental health issues. The couple started as volunteers at the treatment center and had no prior criminal record or adverse history, which played a significant role in their approval as kith caregivers by MSF.

The abuse began in September 2020, with the man asking the girl to participate in an “activity” involving a mirror before molesting her.

This progressed to almost daily sexual assaults. Despite regular check-ins and therapy sessions with professionals, the abuse went undetected until the girl confided in a teacher in November 2020.

On 28 November, the man was sentenced to 10 years in jail and nine strokes of the cane under Section 376AA of the Penal Code for exploitative sexual penetration of a minor aged 16 or 17.

MSF, in its statement, highlighted the difficulty in detecting child abuse, especially when actively hidden by a caregiver.

They stated, “This case highlights how detection can be difficult even with close and constant support provided by professionals.” The ministry also emphasized the critical role of having trusted individuals in a child’s life, citing the teacher’s intervention as a key factor in uncovering the abuse.

The girl is currently with her relatives and receiving support from a Family Service Centre social worker and a hospital psychologist.

“Putting her under the care of a man and a woman with two sons is so risky. The state should have regularly checked up on her and asked about her well-being,” one netizen wrote on CNA’s Facebook post.

Another commented, “Something went wrong somewhere, and it ruined the girl. And why would a teenage girl sleep between two strangers? This is already not normal.”

A third person expressed, “This is a total failure. Those who approved letting that evil man be her caregiver should be punished too! I feel so sorry for the girl.”

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Firstly the prosecution should appeal for a higher sentence. Secondly all the civil servants involved in this case should be fired from their jobs, failing which the Minister should take responsibility and resign. Thirdly CCS who is head of the Civil Service should be replaced. The civil service is going downhill under him.

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