Tuesday, 11 December 2012


This story brought tears to my eyes as did the movie 'Slum Dog Millionaire' but worse because it happened for real. A seven-year-old boy was grabbed from the street by strangers to maim him so he would elicit more sympathy working for them as a beggar. But when he recognised the men from his area and told them he would report them to his father, they decided to torture him, cutting off his penis and leaving him for dead on the streets of Bangladesh. 

 In some South Asian countries, the prevalence of 'beggar mafias' is becoming increasingly common. The practice was portrayed in the 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire, in which a child in Mumbai, India, is intentionally blinded so he could bring in more money. Pls continue to read after the cut...

The horrific attack on Okkhoy unfolded in late 2010, just a few days before the Muslim festival of Eid, when three local children lured the trusting child out of his home with the promise of a lolly. In a final brutal act, his attackers chopped off his penis and his right testicle. Okkhoy was dumped by the side of a warehouse - his attackers intended to come back later and dump him in the river. But his mother, who had gone looking for her missing child, stumbled across his blood-soaked body.  'I barely recognized him; he was so stained with blood,' she said. She carried her young son's body to the side of the main road where she was met by Okkhoy's father Abed, who had been alerted by a neighbor.

 'It felt like the sky fell on me,' he said. 'As a father, there is no greater pain in the world than knowing that you could not protect your child.' 

Okkhoy spent three months in a Dhaka hospital, but doctors were unable to do much to repair the severed organ. Abed reported the attack to police, but was shocked to discover it had already been covered and the police would not investigate.  A man, who pretended to be Okkhoy's uncle, had told police that his nephew was attacked by two boys in a playground spat.  

At the trial, according to prosecutors, it emerged that the gang maimed at least five other children to get money for begging. The gang kept the children confined for months in tight spaces or even in barrels and deprived them of food and then send them out to beg, according to one of the men who confessed. Okkhoy's father believes the attack was payback after he had a confrontation with one of the men at a tea stall. Authorities continue to look for four others who they claim are part of the same 'beggar mafia' gang. To ensure Okkhoy and his family stay safe, they were placed in a battalion compound, but his father remained concerned about his son's ability to father children.  

But then U.S. businessman Aram Kovach, from Ohio, heard the story on CNN and decided to fund a trip for Okkhoy and his family to travel to America for treatment. John Gearhart, the director of pediatric urology at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, Maryland decided to waive his fee and help Okhkoy. Although the surgeons were initially concerned they would not be able to reconstruct Okkhoy's genitalia, they found it was less-damaged than originally thought on the operating table.   

They were to move the urethra - the tube used for urination - to the tip of Okkhoy's penis, so he would no longer have to urinate through a tiny hole the doctors in Bangladesh had created. And his father's concerns about having grandchildren was abated after Redett's team used skin from Okkhoy's thigh for the shaft of the penis and tissue from his inner cheek lining to create the tip. The success of the operation means that Okkhoy will be able to have sensation and the organ will continue to grow as Okkhoy gets older. Now Okkhoy's ambition for the future is to become a doctor and help other people who have been inured.

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