Some people in the central province of Phu Yen have rescued a young woman and her 2-year-old child, who was forced to live in the forest for eight years by her father.
Tam Anh and her daughter.
On June 10, the woman, named Dang Thi Tam Anh, 24, denounced to the police of Dong Xuan district, Phu Yenprovince, that her father took her to the jungle when she was 17, and raped her. Her 2-year-old child was the outcome of rape.
According to the woman, eight years ago, her father, Dang Ngoc Hai, 62, took Tam Anh and her brother to Lo Giang forest in Dong Xuan district, to tend 20 cows. The brother ran away to HCM City because he could not stand hunger, malaria and loneliness.
When Tam Anh was 18, an old man who tilled the fields in Lo Giang forest wanted to marry her but the father did not agree. The same year, the father began raping his daughter.
“Whenever he saw strangers, both men and women, approaching me, he beat me. He said he would kill me if I told them the truth,” Tam Anh said.
Two years ago, she gave birth to a baby girl.
“My parent carried out my delivery in the forest. My daughter cried all the time because I did not have enough milk. I tried to eat as much as papaya grown around my hut to have milk for her,” Tam Anh recalled.
“I tended cows everyday, leaving my daughter alone in the hut all day. She did not eat or drink during the day but she rarely cried,” she said.
“Recently, he (her father) told me to leave the baby to die. Whenever he came to my hut, he beat and threatened to kill me and my daughter. I was so scared!”
Once a month, Tam Anh’s parent brought several kilos of rice, fish sauce and dried fish for her. For eight years, the woman only ate rice, dried fish and wild vegetable.
“When I was out of rice, I cooked wild vegetable and papaya for my daughter,” the woman said.
As giving birth in the jungle, the woman named her child “Nui” (mountain).
Persuaded by some locals, the woman left the forest to denounce her father.
The first time she left Lo Giang forest after eight years, Tam Anh was in great fear because everything was strange to her.
Chairman of Dong Xuan district, Mr. Vo Cao Phi, said the local government held an urgent meeting to consider the case. The authorities instructed the local women’s association and the Division of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs to take care of the woman and her child.
Lieutenant colonel Le Van Dinh, chief police officer of Dong Xuan village, summoned the woman’s parents, Mr. Hai and Ms. Luu Thi Ngoc Dung, 52, to question. However, Hai denied to assault and rape his daughter.
Local police have collected samples for DNA test to define whether the baby is Hai’s daughter or not. They also made a survey at the hut where Tam Anh lived for 8 years.
The woman and her child now live at the office of Dong Xuan police agency.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Truc, Chair of the local woman’s association, said that Tam Anh only ate rice with fish sauce.
A female police officer named Dang Thi Thu Thuy, who lives near Tam Anh’s room, said: “Everything was strange to her. After several days being helped by others, she is more friendly now.”
Ms. Pham Thi Tuong Lai, deputy director of Phu Yen Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said that after having DNA test results, the woman and her baby will be taken care at the Center for People Who Deserve Well of the Country. The woman will be trained with living skills to be able to re-integrate into the community.
The woman and the baby were given a check-up at the Dong Xuan clinic. Dr. Cao Thi Hoa Ly, the hospital’s director, said the baby was critically ill-nourished. She is nearly 2 years old but her weight is barely 6kg. The baby was very shy. She was afraid of seeing others, except for her mum.
Tam Anh said she felt comfortable to get out of the jungle. “Everything here is strange to me but everybody loves me. I have enough food!” she said.
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