Friday, August 29, 2008

Palestian police find a girl and her brother who having been locked away for 20 years because of their disabilities

From this Associated Press report. Here is an excerpt:

BEIT AWWA, West Bank - A Palestinian couple locked their disabled son and daughter away for decades out of fear they would ruin the marriage prospects of a healthy child if discovered, police said Wednesday.

The case highlights the shame felt by families who have children with disabilities in Palestinian society — made worse because of poor services and the practice of marriages between first cousins.

"This is sad, shameful and awful," rights activist Imad Abumohr said.

Few people in the rural town of Beit Awwa knew of Basam Musalmeh, 38, and his sister Nawal, 42. They were kept since childhood in two concrete rooms that stank of sweat and urine adjoining the family's house.

Police found them Tuesday night while searching for Hamas loyalists and criminals, said an official who asked not to be identified because the Palestinian Authority publicly denies it cracks down on the militant group.

Palestinian police commander Samih Saify said officers heard noises while searching the house and found the brother naked and the sister wearing a flimsy nightdress.

Their father was detained. Their mother died a few years ago, the family said. Police returned the siblings to the home because there was no other place for them. The family said their stepmother would care for them.