Police in the southern province of Dong Thap are investigating a case where a mother allegedly abused her nine-month-old daughter.
Initial reports show that Nguyen Thi Xuan Lan's lover, 34-year-old Le Thanh Tam, and her parents, Tran Thi Hanh and Nguyen Van Kiet, also beat nine-month-old Nguyen Thi Nhu Y.
Y was brought to a local hospital with multiple injuries last Thursday (September 16) by health officials and police from Long Hau Commune in Lai Vung District, following a tip-off from locals.
A photo taken of Nguyen Thi Nhu Y at the hospital where she is still receiving treatment. Doctors say some of the wounds were caused by pressing hot objects to the skin.
The suspects said they beat the girl because she was a source of bad luck for the family. They believed that hitting her would drive any misfortune away, according to Tran Van Hung, chairman of the People's Committee in Long Hau Commune.
The police have placed Tam in custody, Nguyen Hong Phi, a representative for Lai Vung District police said.
Tam was also accused of filming the abuse on his mobile phone which has been confiscated by police, Le Xuan Lang, the Lai Vung police chief said.
"It's heart-wrenching to see images of the child being beaten and tortured in such a cruel manner," Lang said.
Lang said police did not arrest Lan, 33, while she was taking care of her baby who is still receiving treatment at Dong Thap General Hospital. Vietnamese law states that any child under 36 months cannot be separated from its mother.
On Wednesday, however, it was found that Lan and her parents were still mistreating the baby, said Hung. Local authorities handed Y over to a neighbor and Lan was arrested the same day.
The parents are under investigation.
In the meantime, Dr. Nguyen Van Ve, chief of Trauma and Orthopedic Department, said while Y's injuries are not life-threatening, they will require lengthy treatment.
The girl has bruises all over her body as well as three deep wounds to her left thigh and in the soles of her feet.
"We have concluded that the injuries must have been caused by pressing hot objects to the skin, causing it to burn and blister. The wounds are badly infected and so are difficult to treat," he said.
In an interview with Thanh Nien, Hung said Lan had been married to two Taiwanese men and returned home pregnant from Taiwan early this year.
Three months after she gave birth to Y, she started a relationship with Tam, a local man in the neighborhood, according to Hung.
Kiet, meanwhile, said his daughter's Taiwanese husband used to visit Lan six months ago before his family asked him to finish with her.
"The baby often cried and her mother would beat her with a wooden stick," Kiet said.
Hung said Lan's neighbors heard Y crying and the mother screaming and cursing since early this month. However, they didn't know about the abuse, as the girl was kept inside the house at all times.
The neighbors alerted local authorities when they saw bruises on the girl's body by chance.
This is the first case in the commune where a mother has abused her daughter in such a way, the chairman stressed.
The incident has provoked public outrage.
Health workers at Dong Thap General Hospital reported that hundreds of people, including other patients' family members, flocked to Y's room to confront Lan. As a result, mother and daughter were sent to a restricted area.
In May, the Vietnamese public was shocked and angered by a case of child torture in the southern province of Ca Mau where 14-year-old Nguyen Hoang Anh was repeatedly abused by his employers over the course of a year.
The married couple was later sentenced to 23 years in prison each for "deliberately injuring" and "torturing" Anh.