A meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee (Photo: daibieunhandan.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Supreme People’s Procuracy, the nation’s premier prosecuting agency, has requested changes in the Penal Code to facilitate investigations into and legal proceedings against child sex abuse suspects.

The request was made at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Justice Committee and the Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children in Hanoi on March 27.

The meeting dealt with the recent exposes of several cases where children were sexually abused in different parts of the country, denoting a serious, growing problem.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) estimates that around 2,000 Vietnamese children face violence and abuse annually, of whom 1,200 suffer sexual abuse. Among these, more than 13 percent are girls below the age of six.

But the real number of Vietnamese children being sexually abused may be much higher, said MoLISA Deputy Mminister Dao Hong Lan.

Lan said that in Vietnam, sexual abuse, especially of children, is such a culturally sensitive issue that the families of both victims and offenders do not want such incidents to be publicly revealed. The victim’s family fears that public exposure would affect the future of their children.

Furthermore, there are loopholes in the legal protection that children are entitled to, Lan said.

Representatives from the Supreme People’s Procuracy said that in order to handle sexual abuse of children, forensic examinations and other evidence are required by law. However, in reality, victims’ families cannot obtain all the necessary evidence because it is very difficult to collect. In many cases, they approach the police long after the abuse has happened, which makes follow-up action even more difficult.

Therefore, the Supreme People’s Procuracy is proposing special investigation methods be applied in cases where a child is sexually abused, the representatives said.

They also proposed that some methods applied in foreign countries be considered as reference to ensure the collection of adequate traces and evidence of child sexual abuse.

Nguyen Thu Ha, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women’s Union, said media needs to be required to keep victims’ information confidential, and schools should take sex education very seriously.-VNA