• Kyodo

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Mothers of children who die of abuse are often isolated from local communities and relatives, with the rate of such deaths higher when women are subjected to domestic violence, a government panel has found.

In the wake of recent cases of fatal child abuse, the welfare ministry panel of experts looked closely at all such cases from January 2007 to March 2018, searching for links between child abuse and spousal abuse.

It was the first time that the panel has released such findings.

Following the case of 10-year-old Mia Kurihara, who died in January last year at home, where her father reportedly also abused her mother, the close links between violence against a spouse and child abuse have come to the fore.

Of the 587 child abuse deaths over the period, excluding murder-suicide cases, the mothers of 51 victims had experienced domestic violence while 219 had not. Whether or not the mother was a victim of domestic violence could not be determined in the remaining 317 cases. The lack of information in 317 of the 587 cases points to the difficulties faced by social workers in securing information about domestic violence when dealing with child abuse cases, the panel said.

Of the 51 cases where mothers were abused, the families in 38 cases, or 74.5 percent, had little to no contact with their local communities, it said.

The rate stood at 51.2 percent for the 219 cases with no history of domestic violence.

In addition, relatives were estranged or mostly estranged in 45.1 percent of the 51 cases, against 29.7 percent among the 219 cases.

“Victims of domestic violence are often isolated by abusers from society and kin,” the report said. “It is important to support families from the viewpoint of protecting victims of domestic violence as well as children,” it said.

Victims of domestic violence also tend to become mothers early in life, with 60.8 percent conceiving or giving birth in their teens, against 32 percent among those who were not the victims of domestic violence.

When their children died, 41.2 percent of the mothers subjected to domestic violence were in their early 20s, against 23.3 percent in which such violence did not occur.

In the cases where domestic violence occurred, the mothers were the main abusers of their children in 54.9 percent, while the figure stood at 77.6 percent in cases where it did not occur.