The Gender Based Violence Prevention Network (GBVNet), a network of 15 organizations working on gender and gender-based violence in Vietnam, released an announcement on March 13 to voice their concerns over the alarming increase of child abuse cases in the country.
Over 1,000 children in Vietnam become victims every year, or one child every eight hours, the GBVNet said, quoting statistics of the Ministry of Public Security.
According to Nguyen Van Anh, director of the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women, and Adolescents (CSAGA), many cases of child abuse have not been investigated properly, meaning the culprits have not been sternly punished.
|Ho Chi Minh City Association for Child Rights Protection officials talk with local reporters about the alleged molestation of seven-year-old N.T.P.N. in Thu Duc District on March 13, 2017.
In these scenarios, authorities require proof of any violation, and evidence of molestation is difficult to obtain, Anh said.
Meanwhile, the credibility of statements from young victims is often questioned, resulting in many inconclusive cases.
Dang Hoa Nam, head of the Department of Child Care and Protection under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, backed the opinion by saying that regulations have not been laid out to aid the investigation of child abuse crimes.
Nam listed the ongoing case in the southern province of Bia Ria-Vung Tau, in which an accusation against a 76-year-old man harassing seven children is yet to be clarified after over six months.
State President Tran Dai Quang has had to give orders personally to expedite the investigation.
According to Nam, child abuse has become more serious in Vietnam and also more complicated as many offenses are committed by the victims’ relatives, step dads, or even birth fathers.
“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” the official warned.
On full alert
Le Minh Tan, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said that people must be on full alert.
In 2016, nearly 100 children in the southern city were molested, of whom 24 were raped, Tan revealed, adding that young victims are traumatized by the events.
It is necessary to raise awareness for parents and equip children with sufficient knowledge so that they can defend themselves against strangers, the official continued.
Several hotlines have also been established for local citizens to report cases of child abuse to the relevant authorities.
Cases to be brought to light
On March 13, the Hanoi Department of Police launched an investigation into the alleged molestation of an eight-year-old girl in Hoang Mai District, following an order by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh on the morning of the same day.
On January 8, N.T.L., the victim’s mother, discovered her daughter had been sexually harassed, while the young girl claimed that the culprit was C.V.H., who lived in a nearby rented house.
Two months after L.’s accusation, police in Hoang Mai District concluded that there was not enough evidence for them to bring charges.
In another case, police officers in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City, held a press meeting on March 13 to talk about the purported abuse of 7-year-ol N.T.P.N.
N.’s mother discovered a bloodstain near her genitals and later took her to Tu Du Hospital for an examination.
Based on the results, doctors said that N. could have been abused, while the victim stated that she was molested by a man at school.
However, the Thu Duc Education Office later announced that the bleeding had refsulted from N. tripping and falling in her class.
Officers said that the girl’s statements were inconsistent, while her mother claimed that she was afraid to tell the truth at first.
The Ho Chi Minh City Association for Child Rights Protection has offered free-of-charge lawyers to assist N. and her mother during the entire case.