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Video of Malaysian woman beating child goes viral a year after the event

From Thasha Jayamanogaran, for CNN
May 11, 2012 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An online furor erupted over a video showing a teenage mother beating her child
  • The Malaysian Police say the violence took place a year ago
  • The woman is serving an 18-month prison sentence
  • The baby is now in the care of a foster family, the authorities say

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- A video of a teenage Malaysian mother beating her baby daughter has generated a storm of outrage online a year after it was filmed, prompting the Malaysian Police to announce that the woman is already serving an 18-month prison sentence for the offense.

In a post on their Facebook page this week, the Malaysian Police said they had received hundreds of complaints and comments about the case after the four-minute video of the mother repeatedly striking the baby with her hand, her foot and a pillow went viral.

The video fueled anger and disgust among Internet users from Malaysia to Massachusetts, where local news broadcaster WWLP-22News reported receiving "many emails" about the footage.

The mother was 18 years old when she inflicted the beating on her 10-month-old child in May 2011, according to Arjunaidi Mohamed, the chief of police in Petaling Jaya, the suburb of Kuala Lumpur where the attack took place.

A friend of the mother, who had become concerned after witnessing her beating the child previously, filmed the violence and took the video evidence to the police the same day, Arjunaidi said.

As a result, the mother was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to 18 months in prison, he said, declining to disclose her name.

Attempts to obtain comment from the mother or a representative for her were unsuccessful Friday.

The baby was put into the care of a foster family after her mother's arrest and is now doing "very well," said Fatimah Zuraidah Salleh, deputy director of the children division of the Social Welfare Department.

Welfare officials check in every month with the foster family, who are unconnected to the family of the mother, Fatimah said.

The initial furor this week among Internet users over the video appeared to stem from uncertainty about when the beating took place and the current status of the mother and child.

Once the Malaysian Police clarified the situation, online reactions consisted of relief that the authorities had intervened and dismay that the mother had not received a harsher sentence.

"Good to hear police immediately took action and thanks for clearing the air," a Facebook user named Prakash Raj said in a comment on the police's page, adding that he thought the sentence was too light.

"She's lucky that didn't happen here in the States," said another Facebook user, Cindy Watanabe. "Not only would her sentence be a whole lot longer, she probably wouldn't have made it to prison to serve her time and would never be able to hurt another child again."

A court will assess whether the mother, who is to be released in late November, will be allowed to regain custody of the child, should she wish to, Fatimah said, adding that the process is rigorous.

Arjunaidi, the police chief, refuted speculation that the mother had been raped before committing the abuse.

He said the woman was unmarried. He ascribed the cause of her actions to "frustration."

It was unclear why the video had surfaced online a year after the event. The police are investigating the leak of the video, Arjunaidi said.

By Friday evening, some of the Facebook posts of the video were taken down.

CNN's Alden Mahler Levine contributed to this report.

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