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Alcoholism and crime wave among ethnic youths

Rising tide of violence is causing alarm

Ho Thi Quo (center) with the wounds inflicted to her back by her husband Ho Thi Quo (center) with the wounds inflicted to her back by her husband
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hue
  • Vietnam
  • February 10, 2012
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Ho Thi Quo, a 20-year-old woman of the Ta Oi ethnic group, will find it hard to forget the violence she suffered at her husband’s hands.

When she was  two months pregnant, he cut off four of her fingers and slashed her repeatedly, leaving 26 deep cuts on her back. He is now serving a six year jail term for the assault but Quo says, “I still fear he will beat me after he leaves prison.”

Without hesitation she blames his violence on local alcohol peddlers, who only started trading in their area in recent years. “In the past he worked hard, respected me and loved me,” says Quo. “He attacked me because I had no money for him to buy liquor.”

This is only one instance of a rising tide of violence that is causing alarm in the mountainous province of Thua Thien Hue.

“We are deeply concerned about the growing social evil among the ethnic youths,” says Father Joseph Duong Bao Tinh of Son Thuy parish. “They steal from local people so they have money to spend on drinking, computer games and gambling.

“In the evenings, as many as 30 gangsters stop people on the streets to ask for money or threaten them and steal their motorbikes. Some  of them abandon their spouses, or beat them and force them to work and give them the money.

“Five of our parishioners have been robbed on the way to the church. Some choir members and children don’t dare to come.”

Father Tinh’s parish does what it can to stem the tide, offering basic education and courses in vocational skills, human and religious values and even teaching some of the young Catholics to play the organ.

But with high illiteracy among the ethnic groups, education is an uphill battle.

Father Tinh believes the violence and alienation is a by-product of consumerism. It was only in the 1990s that the area started to get paved streets, a market, restaurants and other trappings of modern urban life.

“After that, the young people started to fall into evil ways and violence,” he says.
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