Karen torture girl can only hope for partial cure

The scald wounds covering the body of the 12-year-old Karen girl who fell victim to slavery can be cured although she won't make a perfect recovery, a doctor at Ramathibodi Hospital says.

REWARD 100,000 baht: Nathee Dangoonb and his wife Rattanakorn Piyaworathamwas (File Photos)

Arthi Krueawit, a senior surgeon at the hospital, conducted a medical checkup on the girl yesterday after she was freed from years of captivity.

A Thai couple has been charged with kidnapping the girl when she was seven years old from a farm in Kamphaeng Phet's Sai Ngarm district on May 20, 2008, and taking her to their house in Muang district.

The girl recently escaped and neighbours took her to Kamphaeng Phet Child and Family Emergency Home, from where she was taken to police.

Police have placed a 100,000 baht bounty on the couple after they failed to show up for questioning on Monday morning.

The girl told them she was physically abused, sometimes kept in a dog cage, and was also doused with boiling hot water, scalding her skin and leaving many scars on her body.

The Karen girl was taken to Ramathibodi Hospital by government spokesman Thossaporn Serirak. Dr Arthi said the scalds on her arms had affected her muscles to the point that the girl can no longer move her left arm.

They can be treated and the girl is likely to regain mobility in her arm. The operation will take three to four hours.

However, the wounds would take several weeks to heal, and she may have to wait up to a year before she can use her left arm again.

"Improvement is possible, but perfection is impossible," he said.

Dr Arthi said he would operate on the girl's arm first before treating scalding to other parts of her body.

He said the girl's mental condition just as concerning as her injuries, as she would need psychological care to restore her to normal health. Pol Col Akkarasorn Srisupat, superintendent of Kamphaeng Phet police station, said the Thai couple accused of committing the atrocities while holding her in captivity had fled police arrest to Cambodia.

He had sent police to keep an eye on suspect Nathee Tangon, 35, and his wife, Rattanakorn Piyaworatham, 33.


EARLIER REPORT

The Karen Network for Culture and Environment on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to pressure police to catch a fugitive Thai couple wanted for abducting, enslaving and torturing a young Karen girl.

The couple jumped bail and failed to turn up for questioning in Kamphaeng Phet on Monday.

Waiying Thongbue, coordinator of the network, said in Chiang Mai province that the actions of Nathee Dangoon, 35, and his wife Rattanakorn Piyaworathamwas, 33, of Kamphaeng Phet province, were atrocious. 

Mr Waiying submitted a letter to Ms Yingluck through the Chiang Mai governor.

He said the network wanted authorities to quickly arrest the pair and bring them to justice.

The two, who ran a dog care business, are accused of abducting the girl known as Air, whose real name is not being revealed, when she was seven years old from a farm in Kamphaeng Phet on May 20, 2008, and taking her to their house.

Physicians examine the 12-year-old Karen girl's body on Wednesday. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Air, who only recently escaped, told police that the pair physically abused her by keeping her in a dog cage, dousing her with hot water, scalding her skin and leaving scars on her body.

Pol Col Akkarasorn Srisupat, superintendent of Muang police station in Kamphaeng Phet, said Air had been taken to Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok so doctors and cosmetic surgeons can examine her thoroughly.

Government spokesman Tossaporn Serirak said doctors believed it would take six months to two years to heal the girl's  injuries. The government would pay all costs, he added.

Assoc Prof Dr Arthi Kruavit, a cosmetic surgeon, said Air's body is almost completely covered with scar tissue. She could not raise or move her left arm because the wounds on the upper arm are attached to the side of her chest.

He said the girl will undergo skin grafts so she can use her left arm normally again.

"Air still has poor psychological health and she doesn't talk much to visitors and remains depressed. Doctors will treat her psychological trauma," the surgeon said.

The 12-year-old returned to the Kamphaeng Phet Child and Family Emergency Home after the diagnosis.

Pol Lt Gen Wanchai Thanatkit, chief of Police Region 6, said teams of officers had been dispatched to different areas to track down Nathee and Rattanakorn.

"We've received some tip-offs and we know that the couple are not hiding in Kamphaeng Phet and that they are still in Thailand," he said.

"The problem is one of their relatives, who is a soldier in Prachin Buri province, is trying to help them escape," Pol Lt Gen Wanchai said.

He said he expected the two would be arrested in the next two or three days.

Police have obtained arrest warrants and placed a 100,000 baht bounty on the couple, who face seven charges, including slavery, torture, forced labour and child trafficking.

Related search: child abuse, child slavery, abduction, karen girl, kidnapping, kamphaeng phet, thailand, yingluck shinawatra

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