Vietnam: Tougher sentences for child abusers

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Nearly 8,500 cases with 8,700 victims were recorded between January 1, 2015 to June 30, last year. Of these, about 6,500 were sexual abuse cases. DANTRI.COM.VN/VIET NAM NEWS

Several National Assembly (NA) deputies in Vietnam are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down to child abusers.

They hope stricter punishments will act as a strong deterrent to prevent offenders committing further offences in the future.

Extreme measures such as chemical castration were discussed during the session over the implementation of policies and law on child abuse prevention and control on Wednesday.

Nguyen Ngoc Phuong, a deputy from Quang Binh province, said such a form of punishment would be warranted on serious offenders.

He also said their identities should be made public and the crimes noted on their records to prevent further offending.

Chemical castration was being used on sex offenders in some countries, he believed, and helps contribute to reduce the number of child sexual abuse cases.

Repeated cases of child abuse, especially sexual abuse were triggering public concerns.

“Most of abusers are perpetrated by a family member, even the child’s father or mother who take advantage of the child to commit the crime,” he said.

He stressed the importance of the implementation of policies and laws on child abuse prevention and control, saying children were the country’s future and they needed protection.

The deputy also proposed ministries and agencies study the coordination between taking testimonies of the abused children within the presence of a psychiatrist and guardian as well as video recording evidence before the trial.

It was necessary to set up child friendly courtrooms to help not only make the victim feel comfortable, but also ensure their identity is protected.

Tang Thi Ngoc Mai, a deputy from Tra Vinh province, called for increasing collaboration between families and schools in preventing child abuse. Specifically, children need close supervision from their grandparents and relatives. At the same time, they should be equipped with necessary skills to prevent abuse, she said.

Mai suggested the Law on Marriage and Family should be amended, saying it was necessary to stipulate pre-marital education for couples before marriage so that they understand the responsibility of caring for children.

“Currently, divorce is becoming a ‘trend’ even though it damages the children, putting them in ‘unsafe groups’,” Mai said.

Deputy Nguyen Thi Thuy from Bac Kan said while the internet and social networks brought about more knowledge for children, especially those in remote areas, it also posed a risk.

She cited the fact that one of four children who were surveyed shared a painful experience while using social networks. One third of children said they were victims of cyberbullying with girls being three times more likely to be abused online.

Thuy suggested the Ministry of Education and Training to include cybersecurity in the curriculum and the Ministry of Public Security to inform the methods and tricks commonly used by perpetrators to enhance prevention and combating cybercrimes.

Presenting a report on the enforcement of child abuse prevention and control from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019, NA Committee of Judicial Affairs chairwoman Le Thi Nga said despite their efforts, nearly 8,500 cases with 8,700 victims were recorded in the past four years. Of these, about 6,500 were sexual abuse cases.

Nga said the actual figure might be higher because many cases remained unreported by victims’ families.

She blamed lack of attention from some local authorities and loose coordination between schools, families and local administrations.

Adverse impacts of the internet and social media were also issues that led to the possibility of child abuse in cyberspace.

There remained shortcomings which should be solved, said Nga.

Several regulations in the Law on Children and related laws lacked guidelines, while administrative fines regarding child care and protection are simply not strict enough.

Meanwhile, campaigns to raise public awareness about child abuse prevention remain limited.

Many localities are yet to provide full and accurate figures on the number of children living in an especially disadvantaged situation.

Inspection work has not been conducted regularly or effectively, and child abuse remains a complicated social issue, she said.

“In the first six months of 2019, the number of abused children increased sharply with 1,400 children, or seven victims are abused per day,” Nga said.

To enhance the effectiveness of the work, the NA’s supervision delegation proposed the government to issue several programmes including a ten-year National Action Programme for children and a programme on reducing child labour over the next five years.

Criteria for statistics on administrative fines regarding child abuse and plans to prevent and respond to child abuse in families, schools and cyberspace should also be set forth.

The delegation also suggested that 90 per cent of child abuse cases must be solved and all violators strictly dealt with.

Local authorities must fully comply with the Law on Children as well as enhance inspection activities in the field.

VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK