Woman in child abuse film arrested

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Police in the southern province of Binh Duong on Wednesday arrested a woman for allegedly mistreating a three-year-old girl after a clip filming the abuse was posted online the day before.

Police said that after the clip was posted on YouTube Tuesday night and someone commented that it took place at a nursery in Binh Duong's Thuan Giao Commune, they inspected all local nurseries and found the one run by Tran Thi Phung with the same background shown in the clip.

Phung, 52, was identified as the woman who was filmed gripping the child's hair while bathing her. She also kept splashing water over the child's face, stamping her, pinning her down to the floor and shouting at her.

According to Phung, the girl was three-year-old Ho Thi Thuy Ngan, daughter of a couple living nearby.

The woman told police that she had to pin Ngan down because she always struggles and splashes water everywhere during bath-time.

"Because she resists, refusing to let me wash her hair, I had to splash water over her; I didn't beat her," Phung said.

Also on Wednesday, Ngan was sent to the local hospital for a check- up and found to have bronchitis caused by what the doctors called "water suffocation."

Ho Minh Luc, Ngan's father, said he and his wife were menial laborers who could not afford to send Ngan to public nurseries, so they had to turn to Phung's service for help at VND300,000-350,000 (US$15.38- 17.95) a month.

"Sometimes we found scratches on her arms and legs, and bruises on her head. We thought she'd stumbled while playing around," Luc said.

Phung has been placed under investigation.

Thanh Nien reporters found that Phung took care of six children between one and three years old, including two boys at her nursery.

A four-year-old boy had many bruises on his body and a long gash with stitches on his head.

Some locals told Thanh Nien that they have heard cries and screams of children coming from Phung's house, but no one dared to say anything.

Police documents show that the nursery has operated for ten years without a license. It had been fined two times - in August 2008 and January 2009. Although they were ordered to close the illegal nursery, Phung and her husband, Tran Van Do, didn't comply.

Huynh Thi Sanh, chief of Thuan Giao Commune's Children Protection and Care Committee, said it was a "pity" that the abuse took place without authorities being aware of it.

Sanh said there were about 20 private nurseries operating across the commune without licenses, regardless of inspections and warnings issued by authorities.

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