A man in Ho Chi Minh City was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly throwing his lover's six-year old son into a wall and beating him unconscious.
Police detained Nguyen Tan Si to investigate his alleged assault on Tran Minh Hieu.
The incident left the boy with broken limbs, a fractured skull and possible lifetime brain damage.
Hieu's mother, Tran Ngoc Lien, has lived as Si's de facto wife for two years.
Si said he returned to his house in District 6 at around 6:10 pm on Tuesday after drinking and found Hieu watching TV.
Si asked Hieu to turn off the TV and go to bed, but the boy ignored him and continued channel-surfing.
The 28-year old man allegedly grabbed Hieu and threw him into a wall.
Then, police say, he picked up a metal pipe and hit the boy over the head.
Si allegedly used a wooden rod to beat the boy on his limbs and body and only ceased his assault when the boy went limp.
At that point, Si phoned Lien and passed his mobile phone to Hieu who could only whispered, “Mom, I am beaten. My step-father broke my arms and leg” before passing out again.
Lien, 39, went straight home and took her son to a local hospital.
Hieu’s injuries were so bad that doctors transferred him to the Cho Ray--Ho Chi Minh City's largest and most prestigious hospital.
Doctors at Cho Ray said that besides his broken legs and arms, Hieu had also sustained a fractured skull. They also discovered brain damage that may have been caused by previous violence.
The boy remained in a coma for hours after being admitted, doctors said.
Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Khanh of Cho Ray hospital said that even if the boy recovers, he may suffer many after-effects such as a partial memory loss.
Khanh added that such injuries could only have been caused by a brutal assault.
According to the boy's grandmother, Nguyen Thi Be, Lien began living with Si, who is 11 years her junior, after divorcing his father.
Be said that Hieu has suffered numerous assaults from his “step-father”.
Meanwhile, she said that she has repeatedly failed to stop Si from continuously beating her son.
“Si tortured the boy many times for not obeying [his orders]. I could not stop him, whenever I tried, I was beaten, too,” Lien told Thanh Nien News.
“Whenever Hieu ignored his homework or slept late, or refused to get up for school, Si beat him.
“[It happened] so many times, but this was the worst,” she said.
Violence against children remains a family affair in Vietnam, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said at a national function to launch Vietnam's campaign against child violence last May.
Jesper Moller, UNICEF representative in Vietnam, said that violence against children is usually kept inside the family and hidden from public view.
He said it can only be prevented when people join together to publicly denounce it, so it can no longer be hidden.
Vietnam's legislature is still amending its laws and regulations to better comply with international child protection policies.
At the function, Minister of Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen also said education and healthcare services in Vietnam also need improving to better protect children.
A 2011 survey conducted by the General Statistics Office with support from UNICEF found that nearly one quarter of mothers of children below 15 say they've had witnessed chronic abuse from fathers and husbands.
The abuse included punches, kicks, slaps, shoves, thrown objects and threats.