Authorities in Vietnam's southernmost province Ca Mau have rescued a three-year-old girl from her abusive father after her infant brother died following a beating last Friday.
Neighbors and police say Nguyen Thuy Vy and her younger brother Nguyen Trong Nhan received severe beatings in the four months following their mother's departure.
Nguyen Thi Dep, 34, says she left the house because she could no longer bear the abuse of her husband and his family.
The children's eldest sister, who is 7 years old, was often spared from beatings, she said, because she can feed herself and go to the bathroom by herself.
But her younger siblings were beaten "regularly" by the 32-year-old father Nguyen Duong Hoang Anh, his mother and sister, "for any mistakes they made," a neighbor said.
"They were beaten for eating slowly, for soiling their pants," she said. "Little Nhan died at 4 a.m. Friday after being beaten the previous evening."
Local authorities only forced the family to take the children to hospital after the 18-month-old passed out.
Doctor Tran Viet Son from Ca Mau Pediatrics and Obstetrics Hospital said "Nhan's heart beat was weak when he was admitted and he died several minutes later. Vy had many bruises on her body and lung inflammation."
The family reportedly took the girl home several times and beat her further.
By Monday, Vy was taken from her father and placed under her mother's care.
Nguyen Tuan Sinh, deputy director of Ca Mau Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said "the girl will receive further treatment at the police medical clinic, where she and her mother will also be protected. We will help pay the treatment costs as well as raise of the child as Dep is very poor."
According to neighbors, Hoang Anh and his family treated Dep like an animal throughout their marriage.
"During all those years, I was regularly beaten by my husband; sometimes his family starved me," Dep told Nguoi Lao Dong. "I left never thinking that my children would suffer the consequences."
The mother said she came back after hearing about the boy's death but her husband's family refused to let her see the children.
"Hoang Anh even threatened to stab me with a knife," she said.
Ca Mau Police say they are currently investigating Hoang Anh and his family members for child abuse.
The police have not announced any plans to take the eldest child away from her father.
Figures from the Ministry of Public Security show that nearly 7,900 cases of child abuse were reported nationwide between 2006 and 2010, 60 percent of which were sexual.
Recent headlines have included the story of a 13-year-old boy in Ninh Thuan Province who was chained and constantly beaten by his father, and reports about a three-year-old boy who was hospitalized in Ho Chi Minh City with a torn liver and damaged testicles after being thrashed by his stepfather.
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