VIETNAM: Better laws needed for abused children

[HCM CITY, 4 November 2008] -  Poorly drafted laws and inadequately funded facilities are limiting the protection of abused children, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA).

Nguyen Hai Huu, director of the ministry’s Department for Protecting and Caring for Children, said the media in recent months had uncovered a spate of child abuse incidents, many of which in the past would have never been reported.

In the last few days authorities reported that a mother in Binh Phuoc Province had cut her three-year-old daughter’s right thumb and left heel and a 25-month-old child had been lashed with an electric wire by its father in Hai Phong.

Recently, a two-year-old child in Gia Lai Province was whipped by her mother, leaving serious injuries, authorities reported.

The ministry has asked local authorities to step up enforcement of Child Abuse Law and tasked government agencies to work together to protect vulnerable children.

Huu said the department was limited in its power to legally intervene in many cases because Article 7 in the Law on Protecting, Caring for and Educating Children was too weak.

As of now, the department can only transfer children to social welfare centres.

The law on protecting children, which went into effect in 2004, prohibits commercial exploitation of children or any act of physical, mental or sexual child abuse.

Implementation of the law, however, was very limited, even in major cities like HCM City and Ha Noi, Huu said.

The law does not stipulate in detail the extent to which children must be protected from an abusive family or environment, and does not outline the department’s right to interfere in cases of child abuse, according to Huu.

Penalties for violators were not strict enough, he added.

Huu said the law should address parents’ rights to raise children they have abused and include stiff criminal fines.

He said the Child Abuse Law, which covers children and adults, including spouses, also needed to be amended. The department is currently drafting the Prime Minister’s directive to strengthen the responsibilities of ministries, branches and localities in protecting children.

Next year, MoLISA will issue a legal document on the resolution of child abuse cases, which will clearly stipulate how to protect and support children.

The department plans to expand the consultancy system for children through telephone counseling hotlines, which have been used successfully in Ha Noi and in HCM City, according to Huu.

Consulting centres in the provinces where abused children will be able to come and receive support will also be created.

Government aid

Street children, young people working in dangerous or toxic conditions and children who have suffered sexual abuse will receive medical care and psychological treatment from the Government, according to a circular from MoLISA and the Ministry of Finance.

Deputy Director of the ministry’s Children Department Dang Nam said the fund was part of 2004’s Prime Ministerial Decision 19 on protecting underprivileged children in the 2004-10 period.

The Government will provide vulnerable children with train and bus service home and children of needy families will receive a minimum aid of VND240,000 (US$14) per month for three months.

Children will get VND300,000 each to buy textbooks and learning material if they return to school and the ministry will introduce vocational training centres for children over 13 years old, who are in good health.

Relevant sectors will consider paying a one-time maximum sum of VND1 million to provide medical care for children who have suffered sexual abuse or been injured on the job.

Sexually-abused children from needy families will receive VND50,000 per day for 20 days for psychological counselling.

To receive Government financial support, Nam said the abused needed to be documented by local authorities.

Further information



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