|A suspect perpetrator in the sexual harassment against foreign nationals in Tây Hồ District that was summoned to the local police. — Photo vov.vn
HÀ NỘI — Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình on Friday asked Hà Nội authorities to swiftly investigate media reports of several foreign women being sexually harassed in the city's Tây Hồ District.
In a directive dated March 5, Bình noted several local news outlets have carried stories saying that since the end of January throughout February 2021, a number of mask-wearing men driving motorbikes with covered licence plates in Tây Hồ reportedly sexually harassed several foreign women as well as some Vietnamese individuals.
A large number of women reported being victims of harassment, leading to the fact that many foreign women residing in Hà Nội “feel scared when they are in Tây Hồ District and do not dare go outside when it’s dark,” the directive cited media reports.
Deputy PM Bình asked the Hà Nội People’s Committee to direct authorities to swiftly verify the reports and strictly handle the offenders, as well as publicise the investigation results on mass media.
The Hà Nội criminal police unit will work with Tây Hồ District’s police to investigate the incidents – including obtaining accounts from witnesses and checking surveillance cameras in the areas – and prosecute the perpetrators.
To date, the police of Quảng An Ward, Tây Hồ District, said they have received reports from four foreign women (three residing in Quảng An Ward, one in Tứ Liên Ward) claiming that they have been the victims of street harassment – including indecent language, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching and groping – perpetrated by groups of 15-20-year-old males.
One suspect, a male residing in Ba Đình District, was summoned to speak with police on February 26 for alleged involvement in the case.
Tây Hồ District authorities earlier said surveillance cameras will be installed and plainclothes police officers will be deployed to patrol the area.
The US Embassy in Hà Nội said in a Facebook post that it is aware of the reports and urged US citizens to “practise vigilance and consider travelling in groups when walking or jogging in that area” while the investigation is underway.
Also on Facebook, the UK Embassy in Việt Nam said that with “recent spike in reports of personal attacks, including rape and sexual assault on foreign nationals in Hà Nội,” it would take “any reports of rape and sexual assault seriously and treat them in complete confidence,” and offer hotlines for support, information on local people and medical procedures. — VNS