The sex trafficking and sexual assault of boys in Vietnam are issues that have been snowballing over the past 2 years. Blue Dragon has been coming across new cases every week; some weeks, we meet 3 or 4 boys who have been abused. Their stories are painful and heartbreaking, without exception.
This week, a story in the local media has garnered significant attention: a 14 year old deaf and intellectually impaired boy in Nghe An province (north-central Vietnam) was tortured and brutally raped by a neighbour. Identified only as "T," the boy is in a state of shock and pain; doctors and police alike have been unable to understand what has happened and their own limited experience of such cases means they don't know where to start.
The accused rapist is on the run, and T is in hospital being treated. His parents are desperately poor and aren't even sure how they will pay the hospital bill. The Vietnamese media, not being very sensitive to privacy concerns, have published multiple stories featuring photos of the boy and his bloody injuries. (In case you want to know more about the story, the article with the least-intrusive image is here. It's in Vietnamese, but online translations can give you the general idea).
In short: T is in a desperate situation and his family is deeply distraught. Their world has come crashing down around them.
Seeing how difficult this case is, and having experience of working with abused boys, Blue Dragon's Chief Lawyer, Mr Van, has today traveled to Nghe An to meet the family and talk with the police and doctors about the case. This afternoon, we have agreed to represent T in court, once the rapist is caught, and we are working with the police to lay a charge of sexual assault, even though the law is unclear on this point. (Vietnamese law doesn't clearly recognise that males can be the victims of sexual assault; so in this case the offender can be charged with assault, but not rape).
While our hope is to have the rapist charged as such - and not only for the violent physical assault he committed - we also need to get this family some material support. Their situation is dire.
By getting involved like this, we're taking a step into the unknown. We can't even be sure the accused offender will be caught, but we have to give it our best. T and his family need, and deserve, a helping hand.
It's equally important that the police in this case can see the bigger picture here: any person who rapes a child cannot be allowed to get away with it, whether the victim is a boy or a girl.
In some ways, this is a test case to make sure an abused boy can be afforded full legal protection. But it's also a real case about a kid who has had his life messed up and is in desperate need.
And so I'm taking the unusual step in my blog of asking for help. We're estimating that about $3000US will be needed for immediate medical help, for the costs of legal representation, and for some decent medium-term support for T once he gets through this ordeal.
If this is something you can help with, head over to the Blue Dragon website and make a donation - any amount will make a difference.
If you're using PayPal, choose "Justice for 'T' Campaign" in the drop down list. If you're donating by bank transfer or through AFAP (for Australians who would like tax deductibility), please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that our staff member, Ms Chi, knows your donation is for T.
I'll post updates in coming days and weeks about how T is faring, and how the legal case progresses. There are just too many injustices in our world. This is one that I hope we can do something about.