Kept in bathroom for nine years (Illustration)
The young woman who was locked up in the bathroom of her father's home in Qalqilya for over nine years is facing years of rehabilitation but the city's welfare department was encouraged on Sunday by her mental strength and will to live.
"We sat with her and were surprised by her strong personality," the head of the Qalqilya welfare department Azat Maluach said. He noted that when the police arrived to rescue her, the first thing she asked for was a sweet as she claimed that throughout the years she was held captive she hadn't been given anything sweet to eat.
The shocking story was exposed over the weekend. According to suspicions, the woman's father kept her prisoner since she was 11-years-old. Her father locked her up in the bathroom for most of the day citing a "family dispute" as the reason behind her prolonged imprisonment.
According to reports, at first, the father, an Israeli Arab admitted to the charges but later on, in court, he denied them. The story reminded many of the case of Josef Fritzl in Austria, who held his daughter prisoner for 24 years, raped her and had children with her.
Maluach said that when the police officers arrived at the house to rescue the woman, she could not believe her eyes.
"She told us that she had not seen the light of day for nine years. In the house there were two bathrooms, and she was held in one of them, where she also ate. She would wash her own clothes in the bathroom and her only contact with the outside world was the radio her father left her," said Maluach.
The young woman, now 20, said her father did not hit her.
The young woman told investigators that her father used to take her out of the bathroom every night from 1 am to 4 am to clean the house. "During that whole time that she was held prisoner she never saw a doctor, even when she was sick she received no medical care. She said her father hinted that she could commit suicide if she wanted to.
"The moment we released her she started crying and asked to see her mother. We called her and she arrived immediately to hug her daughter and calm her down."
Family knew of imprisonment
The woman's parents divorced several years ago and it would seem that the father prevented the mother from seeing her daughter. After the two broke up the father remarried and at that point imprisoned his daughter.
According to Maluach the father's 'new' family was all aware of the fact that the daughter was imprisoned and yet no one reported anything to the authorities.
Maluach added that the woman said: "When I was released I was reminded of the release of the (Palestinian) prisoners and I feel I'm one of them."
The Palestinian police have handed over the father to the Shai District Police department and on Saturday night the Rishon L'Zion Magistrate's Court extended his remand by five days.
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