Brutal babysitters get 3 yrs each for child abuse in Vietnam

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Le Thi Dong Phuong (R) and Nguyen Le Thien Ly stand trial for abusing  children at an unlicensed private nursery in Ho Chi Minh City on January 20

A Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced two babysitters to three years in jail each on Monday for torturing children at an unlicensed private nursery.

Le Thi Dong Phuong, 32, and Nguyen Le Thien Ly, 20, were convicted of torture.

Phuong, who is the owner of the nursery, was ordered to pay VND20 million (US$950) as compensation to the families of two children.

Police in Thu Duc District's Hiep Binh Phuoc Ward arrested the two babysitters on December 16, 2013 after they received a video clip from a local resident showing the two being violent with four children while forcing them to eat and drink.

In the video, the two babysitters viciously slap, hit, grab, shake, and pinch the children's noses to make them eat faster.

Ly even forced the kids to eat what they had just thrown up.

In the video, she lifts up a baby girl who is eating too slowly and threatens to dunk her into a bucket of water despite her pitiful cries.

After the clip was posted on the internet, it went viral and sparked public outrage. The trial opened soon after. 

Phuong and Ly admitted to their crimes before the judges.

Phuong's nursery cared for 22 children for whom the parents paid VND1-1.2 million ($47-57) a month.

Phuong had been a daycare assistant for seven years before opening the nursery last October.

As her application for a license was being considered, she began taking in children.

On November 15, authorities ordered her to close the yet-to-be licensed business.

On December 6, after she failed to close down, local authorities fined her VND750,000 ($35) and again ordered the nursery's closure.

On December 13, after the video saga, the nursery was finally closed down.

Several recent child abuse cases have attracted much public attention. HCMC police last week asked prosecutors to press murder charges against Ho Ngoc Nho, a 20-year-old babysitter, for killing an 18-month-old boy she was babysitting because he wouldn't stop crying.

Police said that after Vo Thi Huyen, the mother of Do Nhat Long, dropped him off at Nho's apartment at around 7 a.m. on November 16, 2013, Nho fed him breakfast but he refused to eat and kept crying.

She lifted him up by his limbs and threatened him. She dropped him on the floor and he cried even louder.

She then walked on his chest and stomach.

She then locked the child in a bathroom, and when she opened it 20 minutes later, she found him lying still.

She asked neighbors to help her take him to hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.

Police said the boy had died from multiple injuries to his neck, lungs, heart, liver, and other organs.

The government's policy to privatize education has been a failure, limiting the growth of public preschool facilities while allowing private ones of dubious quality to mushroom, experts say.

An unnamed HCMC legislator has said that the city has enough money to build new schools but it has been unable to do so because of a 2005 government resolution and a 2002 decision that bans the construction of public kindergartens in "non-difficult" areas.

HCMC education officials admitted that many problems have surfaced after preschool education was mostly privatized.

Private schools charge at least VND2 million (US$95) per month, a sum that most average families cannot afford.

Given that there are not enough public schools to meet demand, there was a "boom in private schools with low fees, but of poor quality, carrying potential risks for the children," a HCMC education official has said.

The limited number of public preschool facilities only admits children of local households or those with permanent residence registration, leaving a large number of migrants marginalized.

Vietnam's household registration system, or ho khau, gives families the rights of access to basic services like healthcare, schooling for children, and so on.

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