Bizarre twist of fate for three convicted rapists

2010-07-02 10:21

An acupuncturist who claims she can detect a man’s virginity based

on a small dot on the ear has become a minor celebrity in Vietnam, where she is

credited with helping to free three convicted rapists from prison.

Traditional medicine practitioner Pham Thi Hong started lobbying

for the men’s release, pleading their case all the way to the president, because

she believes all three men are virgins and could not be guilty of rape.

“They all had small red spots on the back of their ears,” said Hong

(54). “The spots should have disappeared if they had had sex. My many years of

experience told me that these men did not have sex before.”

Her claims are unusual even for a country where acupuncture and

traditional medicine are still common remedies, but Hong’s determination to have

the case reopened – even threatening to light herself on fire – led to

prosecutors re-examining the case.

The convictions eventually were suspended due

to flaws by initial investigators.

“Thanks to her efforts, investigators revisited the case which

otherwise could have been buried,” said Nong Thi Hong Ha, a lawyer for one of

the freed men.

Hong says she discovered the spot on Nguyen Dinh Kien’s ear the

first time he visited her for treatment four years ago.

He was brought to the

hospital from prison, where he was serving a 16-year sentence after being

convicted of gang-raping a 20-year-old woman in 2000.

After seeing the spot on Kien’s ear, Hong believed his insistence

that he was innocent.

She later examined his two alleged accomplices and began a campaign

for their release.

Eventually, President Nguyen Minh Triet ordered that the case be


Investigators who revisited the case discovered flaws, including

the fact that testimonies of witnesses indicating their innocence were not

included in the case’s files, according to the local Pioneer newspaper.

The three men, having served 10 years in jail, were released in


Vietnamese newspapers have dedicated profiles to Hong and her

virginity test, crediting her with helping to free the men while not expressing

any scepticism of her ability.

Earlier this week, she went on an online chat on Pioneer newspaper

where readers expressed their “great admiration” for her efforts.

She says she was first taught how to determine if a man has ever

had sex by feeling their pulse.

She later developed the ear-spot method on her


She says the spot will only disappear after heterosexual intercourse and is

not affected by gay sex or masturbation.

“I never thought that one day I would use this method to help the

three men prove their innocence,” said Hong, while treating a patient in her

home on the outskirts of Hanoi.

Her virgin-detecting claims have drawn scepticism from other

traditional medicine practitioners, who work with needles, herbs and other

methods using centuries-old techniques to manipulate energy, or chi, in the


“I have never heard of this method before!” said Nguyen Van Hao

(60), an acupuncturist who has practised for 14 years.

“From the medical point of view, it’s impossible to determine

whether a man has had sex or not by feeling the pulse or examining the red spot

on their ears.”

Hong, however, said she’s convinced her method works after years of

testing it on her students.

Hong says her reputation has now prompted other convicted rapists

to seek her help in appealing their cases.

“I’m not planning to launch a campaign to clear innocent people who

were falsely convicted of rape,” she said. “But I’m willing to help people to

prove their innocence, if they really are.”

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