UN calls for action over drawn-out child sexual abuse cases in Vietnam

March 17, 2017 | 07:22 pm GMT+7
UN calls for action over drawn-out child sexual abuse cases in Vietnam
A social worker provides support to a girl in need of special protection. Photo by UNICEF Viet Nam/Truong Viet Hung.

The United Nations has raised concerns only four days after Vietnam’s president demanded answers on a prolonged child sex abuse case.

In a press release on Friday, the United Nations expressed serious concerns over widespread, unreported child sexual abuse cases and recent incidents that have not been adequately handled by Vietnamese authorities.

In February and March, public outcry put at least four drawn-out child molestation cases into the spotlight. In the most prolonged case in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, authorities took four years to finally open a criminal investigation against the suspect on March 14, 2017.

In some cases, law firms have sent emergency letters to UNICEF, the president and the Ministry of Public Security to ask for intervention. 

While welcoming the action taken by the government to investigate recent child sexual abuse incidents, Kamal Malhotra, U.N. Resident Coordinator stressed: "Impunity of perpetrators of sexual violence, abuse and exploitation against children must end and all such acts must be investigated and prosecuted."

Mr. Malhotra stated that the U.N. will continue to help Vietnam strengthen laws, develop specialized child protection services, and apply child-friendly and gender-sensitive investigation and prosecution processes.

The organization said it's high time for Vietnam to close the gap between international standards, political commitments and action.

According to the press release, approximately one in four children in Vietnam is a victim of abuse and at least 1,300 cases of sexual violence against children are reported each year. Although official data is unavailable, the U.N. estimates that the true numbers are consistently alarming.

It encourages anyone who is a victim or witnesses violence against children to use the national child protection hotline 1800 1567, where they can receive advice and support.

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