Outrage over child rape victim's suicide prompts Vietnamese PM to step in

By VnExpress   April 16, 2017 | 01:57 am PT
Police dropped the case despite reports from the family the 13-year-old had been raped on multiple occasions.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered an urgent investigation into the handling of a child rape case in the southern province of Ca Mau after the victim committed suicide in February following police inaction.

The order was sent to the Ministry of Public Security and authorities in Ca Mau following widespread media coverage of the suicide in recent days.

Reports say the family of the 13-year-old girl filed a complaint in September last year after she told them that a 57-year-old neighbor had raped her on multiple occasions.

She committed suicide in February after police said they did not have enough evidence to continue their investigation.

Her parents said she had told them that she felt “too ashamed to live”.

A suicide note was found after her death.

Having sex with a person under 13 years old is ruled as child rape in Vietnam, a crime punishable by death.

Phuc ordered the ministry and provincial authorities to investigate why police had dropped the case.

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 more than a year ago.

In most cases, the perpetrators were people familiar with the children, such as teachers, school security officials, relatives and neighbors.

Experts said at a recent conference that sexual abuse cases in Vietnam tend to be prolonged or even buried due to legal loopholes that require evidence of serious physical effects on the victims.

Last month, intensive mainstream and social media reports angered the public and prompted top government officials to intervene. Police arrested two suspects: a 76-year-old accused of molesting seven girls at an apartment building in the southern beach town of Vung Tau, and a 34-year-old Hanoian accused of assaulting his 8-year-old neighbor.

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