Authorities in France have launched an investigation after finding three young children of an Indian couple living in “appalling conditions” at the family’s apartment in Paris.
According to reports, the children – all boys under the age of 6 – and their parents had apparently never left the flat.
A source close to the inquiry told French media that the children, whose condition was discovered in February, had never been vaccinated, seen a doctor or been sent to school.
The case, which only became public this week, came to the attention of the authorities when the children’s 27-year-old mother gave birth in January and staff at the hospital alerted social services after being struck by her indifferent attitude to the baby girl.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the family had three other children, boys aged between two and six, who were confined in the couple’s flat.
The boys had severe developmental deficiencies and were barely able to walk or talk.
The family had been living in the housing estate of La Courneuve in northern Paris for six years.
Neighbours in the high-rise estate, which houses some 4,000 people, told reporters they were not even aware of the children’s existence.
“At times I saw the father… but I never saw the children,” a neighbour who lives across the landing told reporters.
“Sometimes I heard a bit of noise and some crying but that’s all.”
Sources close to the case said the children had not been beaten or subjected to sexual assault, but had been confined to a single room in the flat, which contained only mattresses.
The father, 33, and the mother are in police custody and are being investigated for depriving the children of care. He had told officials that he intended to take the boys to school “when they learned how to walk.”
Both parents face up to seven years in prison and fines of 100,000 euros.
Neither of them had a job and they were receiving child benefits.