Singaporean woman claims she was raped in central Vietnam
By Hoang Phong April 2, 2019
Binh Thuan police have opened an investigation after a Singaporean woman filed a complaint saying she was raped by a local man.
On Sunday, the 30-year-old Singaporean woman, whose name has not been revealed, filed a report with the local police, accusing a man, only identified as the manager of the guesthouse where she was staying, of raping her on Saturday night, local media reports said.
The woman, who was in the popular resort town of Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province on vacation, said she and her friend went out with the guesthouse manager for dinner and stayed out until late at night. After she returned to her room, he came at 1 a.m. and raped her, she said.
Following her complaint, officers summoned the 26-year-old manager for questioning.
The man denied the charge and said they had consensual sex. However, police said the woman’s body bore signs of sexual assault and that they are continuing the investigation.
In Vietnam, punishment for convicted rapists ranges from two years in jail to death sentence, depending on the seriousness of the attack and damage caused to the victim.
Six boys in Vietnam arrested for gang rape of schoolgirl
By Ha Thuong March 27, 2019
A 10th grade girl from Nguyen Huu Than High School in Quang Tri Province was allegedly gang raped by six local boys. Photo by Ha Thuong
Police in the central Quang Tri Province have arrested six schoolboys for allegedly gang-raping a schoolgirl.
Trieu Phong District police said the boys are from two high schools and the girl is in 10th grade at Nguyen Huu Than High School.
None of them has been identified because they are all minors.
Authorities said the boys had planned the heinous act and so plied the girl with alcohol and got her drunk.
The police swung into action after district authorities received a complaint on Monday from the victim’s family saying the girl’s body bore signs of abuse after she attended a birthday party last Sunday with the six boys.
At around 9 p.m. that day the family heard a noise outside their house and ran out to find the victim lying unconscious on the ground and no one else in the vicinity.
Her family rushed her to hospital with scratches on her neck and face and low blood pressure.
Doctors confirmed she had been sexually abused. She was discharged on Monday night after recovering from injuries.
Vietnam’s legal impotence on sexual harassment arouses outrage
By Ngoc Dinh March 26, 2019
Legal loopholes are blamed for sexual harassers in Vietnam getting away with slaps on the wrist.
“If the punishment is just a VND200,000 fine, I would like to deposit VND1 million right away, so next time I won’t have to pay,” an angry reader wrote to VnExpress. !!!
The reader’s caustic comment was made in response to the fine slapped on a man who molested a woman in an elevator.
On March 4, camera footage showed a man forcibly kissing a woman in an elevator. It showed the man trying to grab the woman as she tried to escape from the elevator when its door opened.
The public anger provoked by the footage turned into outraged disbelief at the punishment meted out to the harasser. After the police concluded that man had molested and forcibly kissed her in an apartment elevator, they fined him a paltry VND200,000 ($8.57) and let him go.
Social media erupted in a storm of criticism.
“Many other harassers may even be ‘inspired’ to commit similar or even worse actions,” Hoang Bach, a singer, wrote. “How can I feel secure about letting my wife and kids use the elevators many times a day?”
Others commented that the punishment was an insult to the victim and revealed the powerlessness of the current legal system against sexual harassment.
“For all the pain and mental breakdown I have suffered, the VND200,000 fine is completely inappropriate,” Lan, the victim, said after waiting for two weeks for justice.
Since the incident, Lan’s work and study has been disrupted as she focused on demanding a public apology and appropriate punishment for the offender. The harasser has not bothered to respond.
Lan is sadly not the only victim to see her abuser receive such lenient punishment. Last August, a man who molested and kissed a female colleague also got away with a VND200,000 fine.
“I think this sentence is a joke. It is like mocking the victim,” Khuat Thu Hong, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), told VnExpress International, referring to the fine.
“It is absolutely useless in terms of defending the victim’s honor, and in terms of protecting her and women in general against such harassment.”
Hong said such lenient punishments are futile in deterring offenders and would discourage victims and potential victims from revealing the truth.
Research has shown that Vietnamese women are generally unsafe from sexual harassment. A 2014 report by Action Aid, an international NGO, found 87 percent of interviewed women and girls had faced sexual harassment in public places.
Sexual harassment is still prevalent in Vietnamese society, and one of its causes is the loophole in current regulations regarding this wrongdoing.
Dang Van Cuong of the Hanoi Bar Association said that Vietnamese law currently lacks sanctions for sexual harassment. The 2015 Criminal Code addresses the act of rape, but has no specific provisions for sexual harassment, he said.
Actions similar to what Lan suffered are usually linked with an administrative violation of offending someone’s honor, which entails a maximum fine of 300,000 ($4.29-12.89).
Meanwhile, describing the harasser’s action as “forcibly kissing” does not reflect the danger and true nature of the man’s action, said Cuong, adding that acts of sexual harassment should be criminalized.
Blaming the victim
The legal weakness impedes authorities from delivering justice and hinders the fledgling #MeToo movement in Vietnam, which is already facing obstacles from the victim blaming culture.
The Vietnam Women’s Union has also stated that the fine could not be a deterrent to the harasser and that it has set a bad precedent. The union has called on authorities assess the damage to the victim’s mental health and honor. “There needs to be a guide to identify specific signs of crime in cases of abuse and harassment of women and children,” it said.
Several lawmakers have also said that the current regulations fail to deal with real situations of sexual abuse.
“This fact shows that some current regulations do not fully reflect the reality of life and they are not sufficient to deter violators,” said Pham Tat Thang, Vice Chairman of the Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children.
The lenient sanction has attributed to the social insecurity and causes women to feel unsafe.
Le Thi Nguyet, Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly Social Affairs Committee, said: “I have learnt that since the incident, many girls are hesitant to take the elevator alone, or warn each other whenever a man walks in.
“The incident has distressed and destabilizes society.”
Following the public outcry, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has asked the Ministry of Public Security and Hanoi People’s Committee to review the harassment case.
He has also asked the Ministry of Public Security to quickly propose amendments to the law if current provisions are not strict enough to deter and prevent similar actions.
Whatever changes these actions bring in the future, it might be too late for Lan.
Despite all the public support she has received, there has been neither an apology from her abuser nor steps taken to mete out more severe punishment.
Today, she is afraid every time she steps into an elevator, but she has given up on demanding redress for the trauma that she has suffered, and is suffering.
“If the law is like this, I have no choice.”
*Name of the victim has been changed.
Rape scene in school play sparks controversy
By Manh Tung March 31, 2019
Dat stressed that there was no physical contact between the students. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung
Pham Quoc Dat, a literature teacher, rejects charges that he used inappropriate teaching content and students support him.
Dat, a literature teacher with the Vo Truong Toan High School in Ho Chi Minh City, assigned 11th grade students to enact plays based on some works of literature last October. Some parts of these plays, however, were considered inappropriate for the 11th grade students to act, like scenes of sex and rape. As footages of these scenes were circulated, some parents expressed their disapproval.
Following the incident, school authorities this January gave Dat a 12-month warning, asked him to stop teaching and supervise the school library in January. Dat, who rejects the complaints against him, explained that each play, lasting about 12-15 minutes, had to include all details in the assigned story. However, some scenes were cut out of context and discussed online, sparking controversy.
The students crafted these scenes by standing behind a screen and projecting images on to it using lighting techniques.
Dat stressed that there was no physical contact between the students. “I stood behind the screen with them and there was no physical contact. They used techniques and objects to create the scenes.”
The teacher, however, admitted that in organizing the activity, he only reviewed the script, while the acting scenes were kept secret by students.
“We have to look at these scenes from a humanistic perspective of the work of literature and the creativity of students to understand what they have learned,” Dat said.
|A screenshot of a play’s scene when the main character was raped.|
Some students who were part of the activity confirmed that there was no physical contact during the play, and added that they supported such activities to make lessons more interesting.
School officials said more than half of school staff voted in agreement of issuing a warning to Pham Quoc Dat. The warning was given in response to the learning activity with inappropriate content and some other activities, said Luong Van Dinh, principal of the Vo Truong Toan High School. All the decisions were based on regulations, he added.
“The school specifies my wrongdoings in teaching, interaction with colleagues and on social media. I claim that I did not commit these violations,” Dat said. He added that he has sued the principal and requested that all punishments are revoked.
Other teachers have also voiced their opinions saying Dat has violated school rules many times in the past too.
“I cannot believe the students could enact such sensitive scenes,” Nguyen Thu Ha, a literature teacher at the school, said. “How can a teacher allow his students to [enact such scenes]? Learning literature is about learning to be human, but what would the students learn from such scenes? Where’s the creativity in that?”
The dramatization of literary works was not part of the teaching plan or approved by the literature department, the department’s head teacher, Nguyen Thi Hong Chau, said.
The head of the HCMC Department of Education’s secondary education department, who does not want to be named, said innovations are good but should not be misused, adding that the context should have been considered when judging the scene the students enacted.
“Teachers’ extracurricular activities show follow plans and need to be approved by relevant departments.”