Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou has ordered an investigation into the case of a five-month-old baby girl whom doctors said had been raped — leading to the arrest of the father — as it appeared later that they could have been mistaken.
In a statement on Thursday, the head of the medical services Elisavet Constantinou said an administrative probe has been ordered to “determine whether protocol had been followed but also whether public statements made by a doctor were substantiated.”
No other statement will be made by the ministry pending the probe, the statement said.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said the force continued its investigation into the case but also advised caution in the way it was handled by the media.
The news broke on Wednesday morning, sparking public outrage.
The father, who denies wrongdoing, was remanded in custody for five days.
He was arrested following a visit to the Makarios children’s hospital in Nicosia where the mother had taken the infant after she noticed inflammation in her genital region.
She reportedly told police that she went to work and left the baby girl alone with her father. Upon her return, she noticed the inflammation, and the baby’s father said that she should take her to the hospital.
There, she was examined by three doctors, a paediatrician, a gynaecologist, and state pathologist Eleni Antoniou, all of whom concluded it appeared that she had been sexually abused.
“It is a shocking and tragic event, which appears to have happened on Tuesday,” Makarios children’s hospital surgeon Efthymios Tsividanides said. “It seems she was the victim of rape. In 32 years, I have never seen a rape incident involving a five-month-old baby.” He told Sigmalive doctors had initially examined the baby for signs of possible female genital mutilation.
However, not everyone agreed. The director of Makarios hospital, Andreas Neophytou said the baby girl did not have deep injuries or haemorrhaging, but that there was inflammation in her genital area.
Former state pathologist Marios Matsakis also shared a differing opinion, saying that everything was on the table “except for rape” because, he said, at such a young age the baby would have sustained serious injuries, which did not seem to be the case.
State pathologist Eleni Antoniou told the Cyprus Mail it appeared the child was sexually abused but that more would come to light following the investigations of the police.
On Thursday, the baby and the mother were in the care of Hope for Children.
“The baby is in good health. There is nothing wrong with her medically, she’s healthy,” the organisation’s senior social worker Marios Nicolaou told the Cyprus News Agency.
He added that the mother, 25, was receiving psychological support.
Nicolaou said people must give time for procedures to finish.
“There was a hasty statement by a doctor about rape that prompted the vilification of the family in the media and society. He gave this diagnosis before a proper investigation was conducted,” Nicolaou said.