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A more deadly Cinderella story

BY: Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond

The story of the five-year-old boy whose hand had to be amputated because his stepmother inflicted machete wounds on it and left it to decay without seeking medical attention is really a sad one.

She is said to have inflicted those wounds on her stepson because he pooed at a place she did not approve of.

The story had many right-thinking people expressing disgust and sorrow at the behaviour of the 22-year-old nursing mother.

As a child, I loved to read the story of Cinderella over and over again and each time, I wondered how the world could be so unfair to children . It is a story of how Cinderella’s mother passed on and had a very wicked stepmother when her father re-married.

 Cinderella had to work all day in the kitchen scrubbing while her half-sisters relaxed. She slept in the store room and the mice there were her friends.

The story of this five-year-old is deadlier than what Cinderella went through.

 Many stories shared about stepmothers have been that of the wicked things they have done to their stepchildren.

 These include starving the children or giving them a different kind of food from what other children in the home eat or making their stepchildren pound all the fufu for the whole family while they are given gari even though they eat fufu.

 We all know what that means in our culture.

 Abusing step- children, beating and also neglecting them with regard to what they wear and where they sleep are also common stories.

 Some stepmothers are known for pretence, the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde behaviour.

 So when there are people around, they pretend to be nice but as soon as there is no company, their true colours show.  

There are two main things that bring about stepchildren; divorce and death.

Some mothers who leave their marital home  leave their very young children behind fearing that the father will not remit them if they left with the child.

Other mothers will do so believing that their children will make them non-attractive to suitors or could be a hindrance if they got employed.

Whatever the situation, the stereotypical portrayal of the stepmother has been that of wickedness.

In other words, as soon as you hear the word stepmother, cruelty is what comes to mind.

 And this can be attributed to such stories as what this five-year-old has gone through.
 
In spite of these cruel stories, there are still many who cherish their stepmothers for the care they have given them.

Some of them even think that their own biological mum would not have given them such care.

The slant to the story which makes it seem as though the boy suffered because he was with his stepmother is so unfair.

 This is because there are many stepmothers out there doing a great job taking care of their stepchildren. To them, I doff my hat.

In relation to this poor boy’s situation, I am asking myself many questions.

Where has the father of the boy been and what did he do about the situation?  

Or as a palm wine tapper, he was perpetually on the palm trees and did not, therefore, see what was happening to his son?

 If the biological mother of the child is alive, why has she not been visiting to check on her son?

How come none of their relations came to the rescue of this boy before things went out of hand?

 And how come nobody in the community intervened until things got to this state? Are we no longer each other’s keeper?

And what’s all this pretence about our society loving children so much that we would climb any height to get them only to maltreat them?

This woman’s behaviour is beyond wickedness to the extent that she made the boy to sleep outside because of his condition and was sending him to the farm?

This is beyond imagination. If she really did this, then she is as wicked as the many people we hear of and not because she is a stepmother.

Now, this boy will grow up without one hand.

There is the need for him to be properly rehabilitated to be able to get some education and live a normal life going forward .

Society should not allow this boy to suffer anymore because his parents have been taken away by the law.

 It is welcome news that the Minister of Gender,Children and Social Protection has indicated her readiness to take care of the boy.

But then, this is where there is the need for our social welfare system to have something in place that is able to rescue such children from the claws of the wicked who abuse them.

This boy should not suffer twice by eventually ending up on the street or adding up to the number of beggars we are already saddled with.

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