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Check your birth certificate!

Update: September, 23/2014 - 09:52
parents of many students at Phuong Lien Primary

One summer's day two years ago, Vo Tan Man, a 30-year-old farmer from southern Dong Nai Province's Tan Phu District, was in his Sunday best on his way to the home of Thuy, his girlfriend, to ask her to marry him.

Things went smoothly as both families agreed to the union. Thuy at that time was six months' pregnant with Man's baby.

Just four days after the happy day, Thuy's father "got a bee in his bonnet" and went to the authorities complaining that Man had had sexual intercourse with his daughter, who he said was then less than 16-years of age.

As it turned out, the bride-to-be had up to three birth certificates spaced over two years. The first one, which was issued by authorities in Thuy's maternal home in Tan Phu District's Phu Thanh Commune, said that Thuy was born in 1995.

The second, which was certified by a local parish priest when baptising Thuy, said that she was born in 1997.

The third one, which was issued by authorities in Thuy's parental home in neighbouring Phu An Commune, states that she was born in 1999.

Calculating the months of Thuy's pregnancy, local authorities came to the conclusion that Man and Thuy had sexual intercourse late in 2011. So if the first certificate saying Thuy was born in 1995 was correct, Man was in the clear. If, as the other certificates stated, she was born in 1997 or 1999, he would be guilty of sex with a minor and up for strict punishment.

Many neighbours, even the priest who baptised Thuy, agreed that she was born in 1995. The priest said that during the baptism process in 1997, Thuy was able to already run, so the birth date on the second certificate could be wrong.

Meanwhile the paternal grandmother admitted that she did not know that a birth certificate had been processed earlier by the maternal grandmother, so she when registered the birth many years later, she could not remember exactly when her grand-daughter was born.

However, when the matter went to court, the first birth certificate could not be found, so Man was found guilty of having sex with an under-age girl. Declaring his innocence, Man fled to a nearby forest. After half a year, knowing that Thuy's family still insisted in suing him, Man decided to give himself up to local police.

The poor man was jailed for more than a year and was only released a few months ago. Most people would appreciate a happy ending, but Man has received no satisfaction.

He was hoping to get together with his wife and son, but Thuy's father has led them all off to a secret location and it seems like Man might never see them again.

Too young to drive

The parents of many students at Phuong Lien Primary

School in Ha Noi were astonished when they received a circular from their children's school to sign. A pledge between students, family and the school, the notice outlines several things students must not do while at school and asks for the family's co-operation.

The pledge contains five general rules for behaviour at school, five more on avoiding drugs and other social vices, and another five related to traffic.

Apart from general regulations, such as "no late arrivals at school, no cheating and no gambling", the regulations also include "no wearing of ear-rings" and "no nail polish".

But many parents were shocked to read rules saying "no driving without a licence" and "no motorbike racing". They said they could not believe their eyes because their kids were aged from just six to 11. — VNS

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