Many cases go undetected: Docs

Dharmistha Joshi may have been arrested after she admitted to beating up daughter Ahuti and wringing her neck to stop her from crying on September 23, which eventually caused the death of the three-month-old, but doctors said on Friday only a fraction of cases of baby-battering were reported.

"Many cases, mostly mild ones, go unnoticed and unrecognised. Parents obviously blame injuries to children on accidents and doctors also do not question these," said Dr Mukesh Agarwal, treated Ahuti.

"Injuries of a battered baby are typical and it is up to doctors to recognise cases of child-beating," he said.

Contrary to general perception, such cases are seen across population.

"It is a fallacy that only the illiterate and uneducated commit such heinious crimes. In the Ahuti case too, the parents came from a decent background. A few years ago, most calls for crimes against elderly and women in Mumbai would come from affluent areas such as Malabar Hill," said Dr Harish Pathak, head of forensics at KEM.

"A few years ago, there was a case of a 22-year-old mentally challenged girl who was declared dead due to TB. Later, it was found that her own brothers had strangulated her. The medical fraternity must be alert to recognise such cases. Action must be taken against those who issue inaccurate and fake death certificates," he said.

Due to changing lifestyles, work pressures and family problems, parents often vent out frustration on children. "Marital discord and problems such as alcoholism become reasons for parents to abuse children. There is no data whether the girl child is harmed more than the male child, but the girl is often at the receiving end in such situations," said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of psychiatry at KEM.

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