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CAIRO – 17 June 2018: Terrifying screams were heard late night on Friday in a neighborhood in Suez City, prompting residents to search for the source to find the sound was coming from an apartment, where two autistic children who were locked up completely naked.
The apartment was unclean, and the two children as well. They used to live with their father who locked them up claiming "to protect them." The mother divorced the father and abandoned the children a while ago, after many problems that led both parents to report to police stations several times.
The screams ringed Attaqa neighborhood, in Suez, north-eastern Egypt that day. Neighbors called the police to storm the housing unit.
Located in one of the Social Housing units in King Abdullah City, the apartment was described as not suitable for residence, and had no furniture. The two children were found standing naked with their backs against the walls inside a closed room with an odor due to stool covering the floors.
Both aged five years old, Mazin and Marawan looked unclean and hungry, with eye-witnesses saying that they seemed to be eating their feces, Moataz Abdel Moeen, one of the residents of the city, told Egypt Today in a phone interview Sunday.
The police summoned the father, who works at a Petrol Company, and investigated him over the incident. The father denied abusing or torturing his children, claiming that he had to lock them up "because they attempted to jump from the balcony before," said Moeen quoting the father's remarks during the probe. Moeen, who is also a member of a residential union in the city, added that the father blamed the miserable situation his children are witnessing on their mother who abandoned them a while ago.
According to the father's scenario, he said that he convinced the mother to apply for courses on how to deal with autistic patients to be qualified for taking care of their kids. But the mother decided she would rather specialize in the field and leave the children to their father. "I do not earn enough to take care of the children," the father told the police.
"The residents are confused and do not know what to do; believe the father's scenario and leave him to take care of the kids, or report him to the police," said Moeen. "They are trying to help the father by searching for medical centers specialized in taking care of autistic children."
The residential union has filed a police report to document the incident, requesting to evacuate the apartment. Moeen copied some residents who tried to contact the mother on the incident, "but she was negligent and uncaring."
According to investigations, the apartment belonged to the father’s sister as he claimed he preferred to keep the children there, where they will get better care. The legal fate of the father is not clear yet, especially that he still keeps the children in the same apartment.
A total of 1,121 children were abused in different ways according to a report issued by the Egyptian Foundation for Advancement of the Childhood Condition (EFACC) in April 2017. The violations varied between killing, kidnapping, rape, and drowning.
The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) announced in January finalizing the procedural manual for child protection committees across governorates and forming a national team dedicated to eliminating violence against children in Egypt.
Autism is perhaps the most mysterious of neurological disorders, which is why the month of April is dedicated to educating people about it, and why Egypt has launched its first awareness campaign. By Passant Rabie Did you know that autism affects one in 88 children?
Last year, it was estimated that the number of people with autism in Egypt reached 800,000, according to the Ministry of Social Solidarity. “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of a child's life.
It is the result of a neurological disorder that profoundly affects the functioning of the brain,” according to the Egyptian Autistic Society’s definition of the disability.
“Children with autism often look normal, but seem to be withdrawn into their own world. Individuals with autism find it hard to communicate with others and relate to the outside world.”
The World Autism Awareness Day is internationally recognized on April 2 every year, encouraging countries to take needed measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, whose prevalence rate now places it as the third common developmental disability.
This story was updated as details of the incident unfolded
Additional reporting by El-Sayed Noun from Suez
CAIRO - 3 April 2017: Egypt's monuments were lit in blue April 2 in honor of World Autism Awareness Day for the fourth year in a row, Youm7 reported. More monuments were lit in blue this year than in previous years, including the Giza Pyramids, Cairo Tower, the Cairo Opera House and the Temple of Luxor, in addition to others.