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“Shaken baby”: a woman tried for the death of her 4-month-old baby


A 29-year-old woman has been appearing before the Bobigny Assize Court since Tuesday for violence against her 4-month-old infant, who died in 2019 of so-called “shaken baby” syndrome.

Schizophrenic and “in a precarious social context”, a 29-year-old woman has appeared since Tuesday before the Bobigny Assize Court for violence against her 4-month-old infant, who died in 2019 of the so-called “shaken baby” syndrome. On June 20, 2019, emergency services intervened in a metro station in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis) at the call of Ouarda M., a young woman who said that her son fell down the stairs by slipping from the seat. where he was not attached. Youssef, her 4-month-old baby, is taken to Necker hospital in serious condition. He died ten days later, a victim of “shaken baby syndrome”. His body had a set of bruises and several lesions characteristic of this abuse, fatal in 10% of cases.

Very quickly during the investigation, Ouarda M. admits to being the source of beatings on her child, which she dates from the day before the facts. “She recognizes 5 or 6 slaps and blows on the chest” of her child, explained Tuesday at the bar an investigator from the Brigade for the protection of minors. “She is a ‘borderline’ woman who acted in a precarious social context and a depressive clinical context which had overflowed into violence”, will say of her the experts who carried out her psychiatric examination.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18

The first day of the trial made it possible to trace the chaotic journey of the accused, born and raised in Spain and entrusted by her mother to neighbors during her childhood. In her cubicle, she says she was the victim of abuse by her maternal aunts, raped as an adult by several men and was forced into prostitution. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 18, she does not scrupulously follow her treatments for this mental illness.

“I was taking drugs, cannabis, cocaine, alcohol, it made me sick, like a loss of control”, describes the young woman, running a hand through her smooth black hair. In a disjointed story and with the help of a Spanish-speaking interpreter, she recounts having had two abortions, on the advice of doctors, in view of her schizophrenia. But during her third pregnancy, in 2018, she wanted to keep the child. But her boyfriend, with whom she lived in Tarragona, in the northeast of Spain, does not want this child and becomes violent. She separates from it and returns to Barcelona to her mother, present at the hearing.

When she arrived in France in December 2018, she was eight months pregnant. – “Why didn’t you stay in Spain?” Asks Muriel Josié, the president of the court. – “They wanted to take my son away from me,” replies the accused, dressed in jeans and a white muslin top.

Awareness campaign against shaken baby syndrome

Arriving in the Paris region, she was quickly taken care of by the Samu social. She will stay in a social hotel in Sevran then in Saint-Ouen, in Seine-Saint-Denis. In his “basic” room, in the words of the president, no child’s bed or bottle, a hob placed on the floor in front of an almost empty refrigerator and cans of powdered milk.

On Monday, the government launched an awareness campaign against shaken baby syndrome. More than one child a day in France is diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. In one out of ten cases, the infant dies and in three-quarters of cases, he will suffer lifelong consequences (paraplegia, blindness, epilepsy, cognitive impairment, psychomotor retardation, autism, etc.). Prosecuted for “violence resulting in death without the intention of giving it to a minor and by ascending”, Ouarda M. faces thirty years of criminal imprisonment, twenty years if the judges consider that her discernment was altered.

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