Police arrested a 22-year-old woman identified only as Thulasi from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh after videos of her torturing and beating her 2-year-old toddler went viral on social media.
In the horrifying footage, Thulasi can be seen brutally attacking the toddler until he bleeds and cries in pain. In some of the videos, she used a slipper to beat her child up, while other videos showed deep wounds and scratches on the child’s back, which police believe were the result of the constant lashing he received from his mother. At times, she is also seen crying in her videos. Most disturbingly, it appears that Thulasi intentionally recorded these videos, often looking into the camera as she attacked her child or panning it to reveal the child crying in pain.
“Due to the pandemic, we are seeing an increase in cases of parents using physical violence as a punishment or threat against their children,” a spokesperson for the Indian Council of Child Welfare in the city of Chennai told VICE World News.
According to the husband, he and Thulasi got married in 2016 and have two children aged two and four years old. He told police that they had been separated for 40 days, and she had taken her younger son to her mother’s home in the Chittoor district, where the videos were allegedly recorded.
In her confession to the police, the mother said she sent the videos to a man she was having an extramarital affair and that she tortured her son on his behest. The police are currently searching for the man.
Police have registered cases of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, causing hurt, and abduction against Thulasi. According to the police, she received a psychiatric evaluation and was ruled as mentally stable. However, experts believe her behaviour is a sign of a personality disorder or a deep-seated trauma that hasn’t been processed.
“A parent is instinctually designed to provide safety and security to their children, so in this case, there is an imbalance that might be caused by a severe personality disorder or complex PTSD, which can only be diagnosed through multiple counselling sessions and psychometric tests” Seema Hingoranny, a psychologist and trauma expert, told VICE World News.
In India, parents or even schoolteachers often believe that hitting their child is a way to discipline them, Hingoranny noted. “Social conditioning or the parents’ unprocessed trauma has led to people thinking that physical punishment is [acceptable] as a way to discipline them, even though it actually damages them” she said.
India has banned corporal punishment under the Right to Education Act since 2009. However, a nationwide survey conducted by the groups First Moms Club and Early Childhood Association in 2018 interviewed 1,790 parents and found that 77 percent of them spanked their children as a form of discipline.
According to UNICEF, about 64 percent of children in South Asia experience severe violence, though the actual number is rarely reported and hence estimated to be higher.
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