Tougher sentences for child abusers: NA deputies

A number of National Assembly (NA) deputies are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down to child abusers.

Tougher sentences for child abusers: NA deputies

National Assembly deputies spent a whole day discussed the implementation of policies and law on child abuse prevention and control on Wednesday. 

They hope stricter punishments will act as a strong deterrent to prevent offenders committing further offences in the future.

Extreme measures such as chemical castration were discussed during the session over the implementation of policies and law on child abuse prevention and control on Wednesday.

Nguyen Ngoc Phuong, a deputy from Quang Binh Province, said such a form of punishment would be warranted on serious offenders.

He also said their identities should be made public and the crimes noted on their records to prevent further offending.

Chemical castration was being used on sex offenders in some countries, he believed, and helps contribute to reduce the number of child sexual abuse cases.

Repeated cases of child abuse, especially sexual abuse were triggering public concerns.

“Most of abusers are perpetrated by a family member, even the child’s father or mother who take advantage of the child to commit the crime,” he said.

He stressed the importance of the implementation of policies and laws on child abuse prevention and control, saying children were the country’s future and they needed protection.

The deputy also proposed ministries and agencies study the coordination between taking testimonies of the abused children within the presence of a psychiatrist and guardian as well as video recording evidence before the trial.

It was necessary to set up child friendly courtrooms to help not only make the victim feel comfortable, but also ensure their identity is protected.  

Tang Thi Ngoc Mai, a deputy from Tra Vinh Province, called for increasing collaboration between families and schools in preventing child abuse. Specifically, children need close supervision from their grandparents and relatives. At the same time, they should be equipped with necessary skills to prevent abuse, she said.

Mai suggested the Law on Marriage and Family should be amended, saying it was necessary to stipulate pre-marital education for couples before marriage so that they understand the responsibility of caring for children.

“Currently, divorce is becoming a 'trend' despite the fact that it damages the children, putting them in 'unsafe groups',” Mai said.

Danger from social network

Deputy Nguyen Thi Thuy from Bac Kan said while the internet and social networks brought about more knowledge for children, especially those in remote areas, it also posed a risk.

She cited the fact that one of four children who were surveyed shared a painful experience while using social networks. One third of children said they were victims of cyber bullying with girls being three times more likely to be abused online.

Thuy suggested the Ministry of Education and Training to include cyber security in the curriculum and the Ministry of Public Security to inform the methods and tricks commonly used by perpetrators to enhance prevention and combating cybercrimes.

 

Supervision activity

Presenting a report on the enforcement of child abuse prevention and control from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019, Le Thi Nga, chairwoman of the NA Committee of Judicial Affairs said despite their efforts, nearly 8,500 cases with 8,700 victims were recorded in the past four years. Of these, nearly 6,500 were sexual abuse cases.

Nga said the actual figure might be higher because many cases remained unreported by victims’ families.

She blamed lack of attention from some local authorities and loose coordination between schools, families and local administrations.

Adverse impacts of the internet and social media were also issues that led to the possibility of child abuse in cyberspace.

There remained shortcomings which should be solved, Nga said.

Several regulations in the Law on Children and related laws lacked guidelines, while administrative fines regarding child care and protection are simply not strict enough.

Campaigns to raise public awareness about child abuse prevention, meanwhile, remain limited.

Many localities are yet to provide full and accurate figures on the number of children living in an especially disadvantaged situation.

Inspection work has not been conducted regularly or effectively, and child abuse remains a complicated social issue, she said.

“In the first six months of 2019, the number of abused children increased sharply with 1,400 children, or seven victims are abused per day," Nga said.

To enhance the effectiveness of the work, the NA’s supervision delegation proposed the Government to issue several programmes including a ten-year National Action Programme for children and a programme on reducing child labour over the next five years.

Criteria for statistics on administrative fines regarding child abuse and plans to prevent and respond to child abuse in families, schools and cyberspace should also be set forth.

The delegation also suggested that 90 per cent of child abuse cases must be solved and all violators strictly dealt with.

Local authorities must fully comply with the Law on Children as well as enhance inspection activities in the field.   

 Public want the best for children

The NA child protection policy debate has attracted much public attention.

Diep Nang Binh, a lawyer at the Tĩnh Thông Luật law office, said children’s rights have been promoted and the Party and State have continued to provide the best for children, including constantly revising and adjusting laws and policies to suit new education and child protection requirements.

But he did raise a number of problems young people face including abuse, children forced into labour, abandoned and child marriages.  

The lawyer said a number of stipulations in the Law on Children and other related laws have not been fully enforced due to a lack of guidance, and punishments against those who commit crimes are not strict enough to serve as deterrence.

He also said investment in child protection has not met the needs of children in care.

More concerted efforts are needed to enhance the protection of children, Binh said, recommending promoting communication, education and consultation on child protection targeting parents, family members and the children themselves.

He called for investment in child protection services, particularly those helping early detection, prevention and at the same time act fast when children are under the threat of abuse and violence.

Besides public services provided by the State, it is also necessary to encourage private services in to work in this field but they must be strictly monitored.

Hanoi University lecturer, Nguyen Viet Phuong, said the rapid development of information technology that breeds complicated hi-tech crimes has put children under increased risk of abuse, while Vietnam is yet to have legal regulations in this field. He urged the quick building of legal documents in this regard.

“The issue of safety for children, especially at public places, schools, society and the cyberspace, must be made the focus, in order to reduce the abuse of children,” he said. — VNS

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