Paedophilia cases spark outcry in Vietnam

2017-03-23 20:46
(Joerg Koch, AP)

(Joerg Koch, AP) (Joerg Koch)

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Hanoi - Vietnamese cops took three months to respond seriously to allegations that an eight-year-old girl had been molested, but then outrage spilled onto Facebook and they made an arrest in days - a rare win for public opinion in the communist country.

The girl was sexually abused by a family friend near her aunt's house in Hanoi in January, but the complaint by her enraged mother fell on deaf ears.

That was until the news spun out onto social media with Facebookers demanding to know why pleas for legal action went unanswered.

Suddenly last week, a deputy prime minister called on police to take the case seriously and the suspect was arrested - offering a window into how the wheels of justice turn in Vietnam.

But the ordeal is not over for the young victim who still wails in her sleep, according to her distraught mother Nga.

"Doctors said my daughter's genitals were hurt... they said there were signs of sexual violence," said Nga, whose name has been changed to protect the victim's identity.

"I never thought it could [have] happened to my girl. It's been heartbreaking seeing her cry in her sleep, still in so much fear."

'Shamed and blamed'

With no independent media in Vietnam, many people turn to social media to share public opinion.

But even popular sites like Facebook are closely monitored by communist authorities, ready to jail anyone veering too far into territory deemed incendiary.

Last week's Facebook furore prompted a different kind of reaction from officials in a country that has made the headlines for paedophilia before.

In 2006, British rocker Gary Glitter was convicted for molesting children as young as 10 in Vietnam, where he had an ocean-side home.

But the country has mostly avoided the headline-grabbing molestation cases seen in neighbouring Thailand or Malaysia.

According to police figures, there are about 1 000 reported cases of sexual abuse in Vietnam every year. Experts warn many more go unreported.


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