Most culprits behind sexual violence know their victims: report

By VnExpress   November 29, 2016 | 11:21 pm PT
Vietnamese victims aged from 2-85 years old are being forced into an ashamed silence, researchers say.

Contrary to the notion that women and girls can protect themselves by reducing their exposure to strangers, recent findings have revealed that 73 percent of the culprits behind sexual violence cases know their victims.

More seriously, 10 percent of the cases are conducted by natural fathers or stepfathers, Khuat Thu Hong, the director of the Institute for Social Development Studies, said at a meeting on Tuesday.

Hong said that the results come from a survey of 322 cases of sexual abuse reported by local media between 2011 and 2016.

The majority of victims were women and girls aged from 11-25. Children under 10 years old accounted for 21 percent with the youngest just 2 years old. Elderly women, even aged 85-86, were also the target of sexual assault.

The culprits of sexual abuse also included so-called respectable individuals such as older people, teachers and celebrities. Most cases of sexual abuse occurred in places normally considered safe such as schools, offices and the victims' houses.

The official said that sexual violence is a serious crime against women and children. However, instead of being protected, many victims are blamed for wearing “skimpy clothes” or taking no precautions to stop the assaults.

“I met a 20-year-old girl whose mother married another man when she was a child," Hong recalled at the meeting. "Since she was 12, she has been abused many times by her stepfather and repeatedly forced to go to the hospital for abortions. When she told her mother the truth, she was insulted and blamed for the incidents,” she said.

According to experts, social prejudices against women and considering the victims as the culprits has left most cases of sexual violence sinking into silence, especially if the victims belong to vulnerable groups such as migrant women, people with disabilities, sex workers or people with HIV.

To handle sexual abuse, experts said that society must eradicate deep-rooted prejudices about women and offer stronger support to victims of sexual abuse.

In Vietnam, more than 8,200 cases of child abuse came to light between 2011 and 2015, including 5,300 cases of sexual abuse, according to official figures released last March. In most cases the perpetrators were people having authority over the children, like teachers, school security guards and even fathers.

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