JOHOR BARU, Malaysia - A 10-year-old girl who was bound, beaten and burnt for a month as part of an exorcism ritual escaped on Monday after picking the lock on the chain around her ankle.
The girl, who had burn marks on both hands, bruises on her face believed to be from being punched, swollen wrists and also fractured ribs, was rushed to the hospital by a neighbour.
Police were later called in and a relative was arrested 24 hours later when he surrendered at the Permas Jaya police station.
Johor police chief Datuk Mokhtar Shariff confirmed that a roti canai seller was arrested and remanded for four days to facilitate investigations.
Police learnt that the girl was left in the care of a relative in Taman Permas Jaya after her father passed away.
The relative started performing the exorcism rituals on her shortly after a medium told him that she was an unlucky omen for the family.
Initially, she was deprived of food, given only rice laced with turmeric powder and chilli.
Then, she was chained and beaten up. This allegedly went on for a month until Monday morning when she managed to pick the lock and freed herself.
She is currently at Sultanah Aminah Hospital for a full medical check-up.
Mokhtar said that police were still awaiting the full medical report. He also said that the girl was in stable condition.
The girl, when met at the hospital later, said she now wanted to stay in a welfare home, rather than returning to a life of hell at her relative's home.
The girl alleged that the relative, and his wife, would tell her that the punishment was for her own good.
Permas Jaya state assemblyman M. M. Samy visited her at the hospital yesterday where the girl pleaded with him not to send her back to the relative's house.