Mothers of children who die of abuse are often isolated from local communities and relatives, with the rate of such deaths higher when women are subjected to domestic violence, a Japanese government panel found recently.
Following recent child abuse deaths, the welfare ministry panel of experts looked closely into all cases from January 2007 to March 2018 in association with the mothers' history of being subjected to domestic violence.
It was the first time that the panel has released such findings.
As in the case of 10-year-old Mia Kurihara, who died in January last year at home where her father reportedly also abused her mother, the close links between domestic violence and child abuse have come to the fore.
Of the 587 child abuse deaths over the period, excluding cases of murder-suicide, the mothers of 51 victims had experienced domestic violence and those of 219 had not, while the matter could not be determined in the remaining 317 cases.
Of the 51 cases where mothers were victims of domestic violence, the families in 38 cases, or 74.5 percent, had hardly any contact with their local communities, it said.
The rate stood at 51.2 percent for the 219 cases with no history of domestic violence.
In addition, relatives were rarely in touch in 45.1 percent of the 51 cases, against 29.7 percent in the other group of 219.
"Victims of domestic violence are often isolated by abusers from society and kin," the report said. "It is important to support families from the viewpoint of protecting victims of domestic violence as well as children," it said.
Victims of domestic violence also tend to become mothers early in life, with 60.8 percent conceiving or giving birth in their teens, against 32.0 percent of those in the case not involving domestic violence.
When their children died, 41.2 percent of the mothers subjected to domestic violence were in their early 20s, against 23.3 percent of the cases in which such violence did not occur.
In the cases where domestic violence occurred, the mothers were the main abusers of their children in 54.9 percent, while the figure stood at 77.6 percent in cases where it did not occur.
The lack of information in 317 of the 587 cases points to the difficulties faced by social workers in securing information about domestic violence when dealing with child abuse cases, it said.