Women fight back against domestic violence

BAC NINH — Nguyen Thi Na (not her real name), a 35-year-old resident of Tien Du District in northern Bac Ninh Province, has been the victim of domestic violence for about four years now.



Beaten and insulted by her husband, who is an alcoholic, Na has struggled o­n as the bread winner of the family as her husband is unable to find a stable job. The family seems to be doing well financially with a proper home and nice furniture, largely thanks to Na's efforts in farming and poultry breeding. However, the couple does not have a happy family life.

Their marriage started out well in 1994, resulting in the births of two children, but things got worse from 2008 when Na's husband became an alcoholic.

Every night, when her husband got drunk, he threw things about the house, insulted his wife, and sometimes even hit her.

"I don't dare to fight back because people here are prejudiced against women who fight back against their husbands," said Na in a voice choked with tears.

Na is among 75 women who sought help from the local authorities to intervene and end domestic violence in their families. Na sent a petition to the Commune People's Committee after she heard of a project aimed at curbing domestic violence in Tien Du District.

Informed of Na's situation, officials from the local People's Committee and the Women's Union visited her family, offered advice to the couple and warned the husband of the consequences.

The situation seemed to get better after a while, although it was not fully solved as the husband's addiction to alcohol had not ended. He behaves well during the day when he is sober, but still verbally abuses his wife and sometimes displays violent behaviour. Na says he resents her for reporting their family problem.

"No wife sends a petition against her husband," said the husband.

Local officials continue to keep track of Na's life and visit her home regularly.

Na is not alone when it comes to domestic violence. According to Ngo Thi Nga, chairwoman of the Women's Union of Phat Tich Commune, Tien Du District, from 2007 to the present, there have been nearly 200 cases of domestic violence reported in the commune.

From early 2011, 20 cases have been reported.

Nga said the cases resulted from financial difficulties, limited knowledge of the law and infidelity.

But an important deep-rooted cause was the social mentality of men believing they are superior to women, Nga said at a community meeting held as part of a project o­n financing work aimed at reducing domestic violence.

Nguyen Thi Hoai Linh, the project's head, also deputy head of the International Relations Department under the Viet Nam Women's Union, had the same opinion.

Linh said because of this attitude of male superiority, many men felt they had the right to impose their will o­n their wives.

Since the launch of the project in March, 2010, however, the situation has seemed to improve.

The ill-treated now have access to legal advise, as is the case for Na. They are encouraged to speak out and their concerns are now listened to. Some receive protection from the police, who are co-operating with the project.

Victims' husbands have become less inclined to violent behaviour after receiving counselling from social workers or being warned by the police.

Linh said the project's most notable success was to create a network where different agencies, including the women's union, legal forces, the media and police, join hands to improve the situation.

The set-up of support groups at local levels and the presence of social workers is a lifeline for desperate wives, who may need help at almost any time of the day, even late at night.

"The support provided by social workers may help save the lives of the women if they attempt to commit suicide or if their husbands go out of control."

The project has also helped organise regular community meetings in communes and residential areas to raise awareness o­n women's rights and laws against domestic violence.

"I feel comforted to have had my voice heard, although the problem cannot be solved over night," said Na.

Na said she hoped to have reliable legal advice to either improve the situation or to help her gain a favourable divorce. What she most wanted is to gain custody of her children and have a fair share of their property.

The ‘Financial planning capacity to reduce domestic violence' project is being run by the Viet Nam Women's Union in six provinces and cities, including northern Bac Ninh Province, central Da Nang City and southern Soc Trang Province. It is sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation. — VNS

Victims of domestic violence desperate for practical support

HA NOI — Services including legal advise, counselling support, health care and shelters are not available for all women who suffer from domestic violence, heard a workshop o­n violence against women held in Ha Noi yesterday.

The workshop was co-organised by the United Nations and the Viet Nam Women's Union o­n the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women o­n November 25.

Vu Song Ha, gender consultant for the United Nations Population Fund said that to protect ill-treated women, a range of services such as shelters, legal advice and counselling support must be "available, accessible and affordable."

In addition to the lack of services, Ha also pointed out that factors such as discrimination against victims of domestic violence as well as limited capacity and lack of gender-sensitive attitudes among social workers were also challenges that hindered women's access to these services.

According to the National Study o­n Domestic Violence against Women released last year by the General Statistics Office and the United Nations, 32 per cent of women who have married reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their husbands at some time in their lives.

However, nearly 50 per cent of the women said they did not tell anybody about their husbands' violent behaviour and 87 per cent did not seek any support from organisations.

Pratibha Mehta, Resident Co-ordinator of the UN in Viet Nam, said it was very important to have a planning, monitoring and evaluation framework, which translated existing national laws and legislation into action that ensured all victims have access to quality health care and protection services.

According to Huynh Vinh Ai, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, two-thirds of the provinces and cities throughout Viet Nam have an action plan o­n domestic violence prevention and control.

Reports from 55 out of 63 provinces and cities throughout the country reveal that in 2010, there were more than 5,600 secure addresses at the community level that accommodated 1,022 victims of domestic violence.

Source VNS


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