Joint action needed to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect
UNICEF believes that exercising zero tolerance requires a strengthened protection system staffed by trained social workers and efforts to raise awareness of children's safety.
On December 22, an eight-year-old girl in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam was hospitalized in a state of coma, cardiac arrest, apnea, and died before reaching the hospital, doctors said.
The autopsy determined the death to acute pulmonary edema with many bruised hematomas on the body and the autopsy process showed that the child suffered damage to the chest and abdomen with fracture of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ribs on the right, slight hematoma at the fracture, hematoma under the skin of the right frontal forehead, and mild cerebral edema.
|Residents in Saigon Pearl pray for N.T.V.A|
The little child, N.T.V.A, is believed to suffer violence from her father’s girlfriend who lives in the same apartment at Saigon Pearl Building, Binh Thanh District.
In the latest move, on December 28, Nguyen Vo Quynh Trang, 26, was detained for two months for investigations on the “mistreating others” charge that caused the death of her boyfriend's daughter. Trang said she beat V.A when the child failed to do homework and did housework not as well as she demanded.
The death of a child at a luxurious residential area in the central part of the business hub has triggered indignation of the public towards related people, firstly the victim’s parents.
Initial investigations showed that the victim’s father Nguyen Kim Trung Thai noticed signs of violence on his daughter’s body like bruises and knew caning by rattan whip and cane that his girlfriend did to the child.
“Trung Thai seems to agree with his lover on raising his children like that and he did not prevent Trang from hitting his child,” local media quoted a policeman.
The role of the father in the case has provoked a public outcry, demanding strict punishment for him.
A few days after her daughter’s death, the mother lodged denunciation against her ex-husband for mistreating and murdering charges.
The mother was not allowed to her daughter since December 2020, four months after they divorced.
One week after the death, the Management Board of the Saigon Pearl said it had not received any reports from the security unit regarding child abuse in the building.
Nonetheless, its press release stated that on October 22 the building was reminded by a member of the Board of Directors to pay attention to V.A. for fear that she was beaten at home. The guards made patrols outside the apartment but found no unusual signs. The board neither received any reports from neighbors nor came inside the apartment.
Does the child protection system fully activate?
The death sparked a question of why the child’s mother left her daughter for a year without doing anything to ensure that her own baby was living a good or at least safe.
Thu Huong, the mother of a three-year-old boy living in Hanoi, said that the mother was also bad as she left her daughter helpless for one year without a single conversation or comfort or did a single action or an attempt to contact and protect her own baby.
Dang Hoa Nam, head of the Child Department, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said the mother should have called for help from police or social assistance centers and hotlines that are available and easy to access.
Meanwhile, Hoang Nam, a father of a 15-year-old girl in HCM City, told The Hanoi Times that it’s strange that an eight-year-old child was abused to death in a bustling city without any protective voice or action.
In addition, Dr. Nguyen Trong An, former head of the Children's Department, attributed the incident to the insensitivity of people and neighbors not to mention inhumanity in the father and his fiancée’s treatment.
To prevent child violence recurrence, it is necessary to focus on family education and dissemination of children protection missions that highlight compassion and love for children. It’s not enough if there remains a lack of transparency and accountability in the state management on children protection as well as strong enforcement of the legal system.
Following the case, on December 29, UNICEF expressed its deep sadness and concern over the recent violent death. UNICEF Representative to Vietnam Rana Flowers stressed the need to have a system that is staffed by trained social workers, not volunteers, not non-trained welfare workers – but qualified professional staff – who can identify, intervene, respond, and protect children.
The move that Rana Flowers made reflects the urgency of a strengthened protection system and zero tolerance to violence on children which is mainly perpetrated by someone they know and trust.
Flowers called for a system that works together with trained police, child-friendly judges, and courts, and zero tolerance to violence is practiced by all authorities, in all schools, across communities.
Zero tolerance “requires us all to do more, to take a stand to protect those made vulnerable, to raise the awareness of women and children that any form of violence is not acceptable and that reaching out for help to make it stop is essential,” she noted.
|A cane that Trang uses to beat the little child.|
Le Thi Thu, former head of the NA’s Committee for Population, Family and Children, said “Vietnam was the first country in Asia and the second in the world ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990."
She said in Vietnam, people under the age of 16 are considered children. The Convention has 54 articles and provided 29 rights. Among the 10 fundamental rights of the child are those to get immediate assistance in emergencies and disasters, and protection from cruelty, neglect, abuse, exploitation, and persecution; the right to have a family with parental care and a safe haven.”
Sharing the same view, Dang Hoa Nam said that providing information and denouncing those threatening to abuse or abuse children becomes the responsibility of everyone and it is legalized in Law on Children in 2016.
On December 28, Ho Chi Minh City’s Deputy Mayor Duong Anh Duc asked the local police to speed up the case to bring violators to justice.
However, avoiding the recurrence of child violence and more than that, preventing it from happening is the most important, requiring all stakeholders to use the strengthened protection system to protect children.
Legal tools and social assistance are already available, the remaining thing is the enforcement.
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