Rise in Vietnam home violence due to failing social services: lawmaker

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The altar photo of Nguyen Thi Ha in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. She died at age 12 last New Year’s Eve after a beating by her father for the loss of 20 kilograms of black pepper. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

A leading legislator has blamed local authorities for failing to support and protect victims of domestic abuse.

Nguyen Van Tien, vice chairman of the Committee of Social Affairs at the National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislature, said the country had adequate policies and documents to implement the Domestic Violence Law, but few people in law enforcement understand clearly how to do it.
The lack of action against domestic violence in the past has caused the situation to worsen as of late, Tien told Tuoi Tre newspaper Thursday after finishing a survey trip to the northern province of Quang Ninh, and the Mekong Delta provinces of Tien Giang and Ben Tre.
Many cases of child abuses have been reported this year, including fatal ones.
Do Doan Loc, 8, from the northern province of Bac Ninh was rushed to Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi in a coma after being beaten by his father with a smoking pipe and he succumbed three days later March 18 due to multiple injuries including blood clots in his brain.
Bac Ninh police said they were never notified of the abuse, but they suggested Tuoi Tre visit the neighborhood where locals had been telling many stories about the boy being beaten regularly.
The boy was rushed to Viet Duc when his nose stitches from another beating that had not healed yet.
Tien said there should have been some intervention earlier to prevent the fatal outcome.
Nguyen Thi Ha, 12 from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, died last New Year’s Eve after her 34-year-old father beat her with pipes, a ruler and a belt because the family lost a bag of black pepper of 20 kilograms and she was blamed for playing outside and not watching out.
Her two younger sisters were also beaten.
“When we came to communes and asked about the implementation of the domestic violence law, people either knew nothing or very little about it,” Tien said.
He said commune and ward authorities are required to publish list of refuge addresses for victims, and annual data on domestic violence, but few have done so.
The local authorities have done nothing on the very specific jobs assigned to them in the law, “although instructional documents are very adequate,” he said.
Managers running the hotline for child support 18001567 at the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said it received around 1,000 calls last year requesting psychological support and intervention in child abuse cases.
Khuat Thu Hong from the Institute for Social Development Studies said there needs to be many more similar lines to meet the demand.
“And I just wonder how many children in Hanoi now about that line,” Hong said.
She said children need to be instructed to call to the police and support hotlines in case of facing abuse, and the receivers need to be always available for help.
Hoa Huu Van, deputy head of the family affairs department at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the rising social indifference has added to the rise of domestic violence.
He said the community connection has been fading, every family seems to mind their own business to save themselves from troubles, and the local authorities also bear that mindset.
His ministry is setting up a plan to send social workers into communities, at least one for each ward or commune.
“I heard some information that there are now thousands of social workers among the community, but when I went to check, there’s none.
“There’s a huge vacancy in the psychological support, crisis prevention to stop domestic violence in the early stage.”
He referred to the drownings of a mother and her two children in the central province of Quang Nam March 24, as a case that could have come out different with psychological support.
Police have ruled the deaths as suicide as the mother Giang Thi My Dieu who was a school teacher was found tied up with the children, and her suicide note addressing her husband was found.
The note said her marriage was happy until she miscarried the second child.
Neighbors said Dieu had complained that her life was so miserable with poor income and a husband staying in rehab for drug addiction, and that dying would feel better.
Tien said social workers are also needed in trial cases involving children such as their parents being sentenced to jail or in divorce cases.
He local authorities need to be held responsible for domestic violence cases in their area.

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