Vietnamese officialdom gets moving on child abuse

By Viet Tuan, Phuong Son   April 4, 2019 | 07:57 pm PT
Vietnamese officialdom gets moving on child abuse
The Vietnamese public has been riling as several cases of sexual crimes against children coming to light recently. Photo by Shutterstock/
Recent incidents prompt a Deputy PM and a top cop to push for comprehensive measures against sexual abuse of kids.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam made a wide range of instructions to various ministries on Wednesday, targeting more effective measures, preventive and punitive, to protect children’s rights in the country.

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has been asked to make changes to and implement policies to better protect children’s rights, to deal properly with violations and to set up units to monitor and dealing with cases of abuse.

The Ministry of Education and Training will have to monitor all kindergartens to look for and prevent violence against kids, Dam said.

He said the Ministry of Health's job is research to evaluate the degree of psychological trauma inflicted on children by sexual abuse towards formulating suitable policies to protect them, as well as creating a foundation on which criminal cases can be prosecuted.

To Lam, Minister of Public Security, said at another Wednesday meeting that the ministry needs to vigorously monitor and neutralize cases of violence and abuse of children, and ensure punishments that deter such crimes.

"The Ministry of Public Security will cooperate with relevant institutions to continue researching, proposing changes or issuing new legal documents for strict punishment for sexual criminals against children," he said.

Vietnamese public have been outraged by several cases of sexual molestation and assaults against children coming to light recently.

On Monday night, a 61-year-old former prosecutor was caught apparently molesting a young girl in an elevator in Saigon, wrapping his arms around her neck and kissing her. He has said that he was merely petting her because she was cute.

Camera footage of this interaction sparked widespread anger on social media, and some Facebook accounts were quick to identify him as Nguyen Huu Linh, a retired deputy chief prosecutor of Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city. Police confirmed the identity soon later.

"He's old yet he behaves badly and brings shame to his family, wife and children. I want a thorough investigation to charge him, we cannot pass crimes like this," commented VnExpress reader Hoa Vo Uu.

"This is a much more serious case than usual. [The perpetrator] is supposed to be someone who knows the law and should be fully aware of the consequences of doing such a thing to a child," said an office worker in Cau Giay District, Hanoi.

Last month, a primary school teacher in Hanoi was accused of touching several 5th graders in "inappropriate places." However, it was stated at a press conference later that there were no signs that the teacher had molested the students; that all he did was "pinch their ears and noses, touching their shoulders, butts and thighs." He has since been disciplined and demoted, but does not face any criminal charges.

Official data on sexual harassment is not regularly published in Vietnam. But a 2014 survey of 2,000 Vietnamese women by the NGO ActionAid found 87 percent of women and girls experienced sexual harassment in public places.

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