Outrage has erupted on Vietnamese social media after an Estonian man was fined a mere 200,000 Vietnamese dong ($8.60) for sexually harassing a woman in Ho Chi Minh City earlier this year.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance camera, occurred in the elevator of an apartment building in District 2 — home to a large expatriate community — around 8 p.m. on July 11.
The expat, 44, and the woman, 36, had been acquainted prior to the incident, according to VN Express.
As seen in the security footage, the man slaps the woman’s buttocks as she exits the elevator, allegedly adding racial slurs.
The woman’s husband reportedly demanded an apology at the time. However, he was only met with further insults and even violent threats.
Unlike rape, sexual harassment is not a crime in Vietnam. Instead, it is considered an administrative violation under “indecent speech and behavior,” which penalizes offenders fines between 100,000 and 300,000 Vietnamese dong ($4.30 to $12.90).
Convinced that the expat will barely be punished, the woman declined to file a report at the time. But after coming across him multiple times since the incident, she decided to lodge a police complaint.
After a quick investigation, the man was ordered to pay 200,000 Vietnamese dong ($8.60). He also apologized to the woman and vowed to move out of the apartment.
Vietnamese social media users reportedly responded with anger and disbelief over the news.
Some brought up a similar incident in March 2019, which saw a local man forcibly kiss a woman in an elevator in Hanoi, according to Saigoneer. The offender was also ordered to pay 200,000 Vietnamese dong ($8.60).
And just in October, a woman exposed a restaurant in District 2, whose expat owner allegedly accused her and her friends of being prostitutes.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has proposed to increase the current fines for sexual offenses to 3 million to 5 million Vietnamese dong ($129 to $216), according to Tuoi Tre. The amendment is yet to be decided.
Feature Image Screenshots via VTC Now