Rush to vilify in episode that is far from clear-cut




Whenever a child dies in the circumstances that little Rehma Sabir did, there is always this stampede to vilify.

It happened all those years ago in the Louise Woodward case with the Americans deriding the English au pair as an “evil nanny” more concerned with her social life than the child in her care, while the British media sought to demonise the parents of baby Matthew Eappen as status-driven, selfish yuppies more focused on career advancement than the day-to-day care of their infant son.

In the past 48 hours from Boston to Dublin to London, we’ve seen all the CSI fans and armchair psychologists at it again. “Oh it’s definitely McCarthy-Brady, look at her record, she had a drink problem”, or else “Come on. How could decent parents not have noticed all those breakages over the past two months unless they were abusing her?”

The abuse of a baby is one of the most repulsive and cowardly of all crimes, yet these high-profile cases, especially involving wealthy parents, bring out this stupid reflex in people that want to turn the whole sad affair into a sordid soap opera plot line.

But this case, like most other child abuse cases involving outsiders like nannies/au pairs/childminders, will be far from clear-cut. Court papers made public by the Middlesex District Attorney show that aside from the brain trauma, Rehma Sabir had older injuries and these will serve to weaken the prosecution’s claims that Brady is guilty as she was the child’s sole carer before she became unresponsive last week.

These older back and leg injuries can’t be so easily targetted at Brady and so doubt enters the equation, and doubt is something that Brady’s defence will use to weaken the prosecution.

The defence has already served to raise questions about the Sabirs parenting, raising her alleged malnutrition on return from a trip to Asia and questioning if the injuries were not inflicted by any one of dozens of people during that period.

The case will also once again raise questions about childcare and the regulation of childcare in the US. It’s believed that the Sabirs were introduced to Ms Brady by word of mouth. There is no way they could have learnt of the restraining orders taken against her without paying physical visits to the courthouse which ordered them.

So complex are security checks in the US that the very wealthy in the States hire private investigators for thousands of dollars to do checks on staff.

The “every parents worst nightmare” angle has allowed this tragedy to become another vehicle to lambast immigrants and perpetuate the drunken fighting Irish stereotype.

Just check out the comments section on the Boston Herald following a story on how those living in the Boston Irish enclave of Adams Corner couldn’t be encouraged to reveal anything to journalists about Brady.

“HEY ICE....START ROUNDING UP ALL THESE ILLEGAL IRISH LAYABOUTS BACK TO DEAR OLDE IRELAND WITH ALACRITY” wrote one while another spat “Adam’s corner is my neighborhood and believe me they talk and talk and talk and drink tea at the bakery and then worship Tommy Finneran and Kennedy pictures then talk some more then head over to the Erie”.

Another posted “The only thing the Irish built is the bank account of local pub owners” before another joined in: “Yes, and there’s to be a Gathering of the Irish in 2013 and it’s hoped they’ll all return to dear ole Eire in a swarm”.

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