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Saigon, Hanoi Have Vietnam's Highest Numbers of Child Abuse Cases: Report

Recent statistics show that the number of child abuse cases reported has increased in the past few years.

On May 27, during a session of the National Assembly, a report on the legal enforcement of child abuse prevention was presented by Le Thi Nga, head of the National Assembly’s Committee of Judicial Affairs, according to Tuoi Tre.

The report looked at official data from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019 and found that a total of 8,400 cases of child abuse were reported during the period, including 7,000 girls and 1,700 boys. Across Vietnam, Saigon saw the most incidents (782 cases), followed by Hanoi (655 cases) and Vinh Long (647 cases).

During the first six months of 2019, the number of reported cases surged to 1,400 victims, matching almost 80% of 2018's total. The study attributes this sudden hike to a few reasons, such as an actual rise in child abuse instance, an increase in awareness among the public in reporting such crimes, and an improvement in the detection of child abuse by local authorities.

According to Nga, sexual abuse remains the most severe form of mistreatment directed at children, with more than 6,400 cases (73.85%of the total), while physical abuse made up 857 cases and 106 other children were the victim of trafficking or kidnapping.

Even then, the actual number of instances of child abuse in Vietnam might be underreported, as some families might stay silent due to shame or fear of retribution. In many incidents, the perpetrator is a child’s relative, family friend, teacher, or even social worker. An overwhelming amount of cases involve male abusers (95%).

In Vietnamese society, the line between disciplinary action and abuse is often blurred, as some parents feel entitled to teach their children in any way they see fit, sometimes violently and in a degrading manner.

Last week, the local cybersphere was abuzz in anger after photos surfaced showing a young girl who was tied to the back of a parked truck. Two women can be seen yelling at her, while a placard that reads “punishment for stealing” is also visible.

According to Tuoi Tre, the victim, an 11-year-old girl in Quang Binh Province, was punished by her mother and grandmother after being caught with the latter’s purse in hand. She was only saved after bystanders intervened. The local police have since summoned her family members to the station for questioning.