Increase in child abuse stumps police

Increase in child abuse stumps police
16:42′ 15/01/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – A recent surge in cases of child sexual abuse has left the victims and their families in inconsolable pain and confronted authorities with the big question of how to deal with the issue.

Street kids participate in learning programmes. Street kids have the highest potential of falling victim to child abuse.
Street kids participate in learning programmes. Street kids have the highest potential of falling victim to child abuse.

Last December, a 13-year-old girl in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, was deceived by a young man who identified himself as a student and asked her to show him the way and then was abused.

Public opinion was indignant over the case of Nguyen Huu Lai, a teacher in Bac Ninh Province, who sexually abused students in his fifth-grade class.

Also shocking, Le Van Thang, 28, from Thai Nguyen Province, was accused of child sexual abuse by the police unit of Dong Da District in Hanoi for deceiving young male street children, taking them to his home and abusing them.

According to Colonel Nguyen Manh Te from the Social Security Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Public Security, on average, there are about 800 cases of child sexual abuse every year.

"Child sexual abuse is becoming more and more complicated. Fifty percent of child abuse cases are now sexual abuse," said Te.

However, the figure given is only a relative calculation, since many victims and their families tend to hide the issue.

The child sexual abuse consultation line of the Telecommunication Consultation and Service Centre of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, has received hundreds of calls reporting child sexual abuse, but most of the people who call try to hide their names.

"One man called and asked for consultation for a child who was sexually abused. However, he did not say that it was his daughter’s story. We had to spend another week on finding more information about the incident. When he finally took his daughter to the centre, the girl was seriously hurt and shocked," said Dang Nam, director of the centre.

The main reason for the alarming situation is that many children still lack knowledge on sexual abuse and how to protect themselves.

"Children are not told about sensitive parts of their body. And when they are not aware of their bodies themselves, how can we ask them to protect themselves? Otherwise, children in Vietnam are often taught to obey adults and not to object to things they don’t like. Sometimes, parents accidentally make them lose their self-awareness," said Hoang Thu Lan, director of the Centre for Research, Family Health and Community.

Inadequacies

Due to the hesitation in admitting abuse, many victims’ families do not report the incidents to police or other authorities, thus making it hard for these organs to collect evidence and carry out investigations. Many criminals, therefore, easily slip through the punishment they deserve.

Additionally, there have been many cases in which the victims are young boys, but no case has gone to trial since many court officials still consider child sexual abuse as only covering girls, according to Duong Tuyet Mien, lecturer of Ha Noi Law University.

Meanwhile, the country’s legal system does not have any regulation defining child sexual abuse or separate regulations on children who are victims of crimes in general and victims of sexual abuse in particular.

This has caused a lot of trouble in the procedural process and can amplify the pain of the victims, said Vu Cong Giao, a member of Viet Nam Lawyers’ Association.

Recently, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs conducted a project titled Prevention and Solutions for Child Sexual Abuse for the 2004-2010 Period, aimed at finding a stable solution for the issue.

Under this project, the ministry, in co-operation with international organisations, has supported and instructed 22 provinces across the country to carry out research, providing information about child sexual abuse to parents and children.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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