FB furore over child rape sees re­sults

New Straits Times - - World -

HANOI: Viet­namese cops took three months to re­spond se­ri­ously to al­le­ga­tions that an 8-yearold girl had been mo­lested, but then out­rage spilled onto Face­book and they made an ar­rest in days — a rare win for public opin­ion in the com­mu­nist coun­try.

The girl was sex­u­ally abused by a fam­ily friend near her aunt’s house here in Jan­uary, but the com­plaint by her en­raged mother fell on deaf ears.

That was un­til the news spun out onto so­cial me­dia with Face­book­ers de­mand­ing to know why pleas for le­gal ac­tion went unan­swered.

Sud­denly last week, a deputy prime min­is­ter called on police to take the case se­ri­ously and the sus­pect was ar­rested, of­fer­ing a win­dow into how the wheels of jus­tice turn in Viet­nam.

But her dis­traught mother, Nga said the or­deal was not over for the young vic­tim, who still wailed in her sleep.

“Doc­tors said my daugh­ter’s gen­i­tals were hurt... they said there were signs of sex­ual vi­o­lence.

“I never thought it could hap­pened to my girl. It’s been heart­break­ing see­ing her cry in her sleep, still in so much fear.”

With no in­de­pen­dent me­dia in Viet­nam, many peo­ple turn to so­cial me­dia to share public opin­ion.

But, even pop­u­lar sites like Face­book are closely mon­i­tored by com­mu­nist au­thor­i­ties, ready to jail anyone veer­ing too far into ter­ri­tory deemed in­cen­di­ary.

Last week’s Face­book furore prompted a dif­fer­ent kind of re­ac­tion from of­fi­cials in a coun­try that has made the head­lines for pae­dophilia be­fore.

In 2006, Bri­tish rocker Gary Glit­ter was con­victed for mo­lest­ing chil­dren as young as 10 in Viet­nam, where he had an ocean­side home.

But, the coun­try has mostly avoided the head­line-grab­bing mo­lesta­tion cases seen in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to police fig­ures, there are about 1,000 re­ported cases of sex­ual abuse in Viet­nam ev­ery year. Ex­perts warn many more go un­re­ported.

Re­cent data and the pub­li­cised cases “are just the tip of the ice­berg”,

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