Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018
SOCIAL AFFAIR

CARE helps reduce gender-based violence in northern Vietnam

Updated at Monday, 10 Sep 2018, 18:49
The Hanoitimes - Gender-based violence is a tip-of-the-iceberg issue in Vietnam and is not just a problem of any minority group but of all groups, according to a CARE expert.
The northern province of Dien Bien in Vietnam will have a project with CARE's support focusing on minimizing gender-based violence among ethnic minority communities to promote gender equality for the first time.

The workshop on the project of “Stand up – Speak out: Breaking the silence around gender based violence among ethnic minority communities in Northern Vietnam (SUSO)”, that will be funded by the European Commission and implemented from 2018 to 2021 in four communes of Dien Bien district in Dien Bien province kicked off on September 10, .
 
Overview of the workshop
Overview of the workshop
Participants at the workshop included representatives of relevant provincial departments and agencies, project communes, and implementing organisations including CARE International in Vietnam, the Institute for Development & Community Health LIGHT, and Dien Bien Center for Community Development (CCD).

Gender-based violence is a tip-of-the-iceberg issue in Vietnam. It is not just a problem of any minority group but of all groups. Ethnic minority women however face extra barriers such as limited mobility and limited ability to communicate in Kinh, the national language, which makes it harder for them to access support services in case of violence, said Ms. Le Kim Dung, country director of CARE International in Vietnam. 

"We hope that the SUSO project will help to break the silence around this topic among ethnic minority communities in Dien Bien as well as other northern provinces, which will then further contribute to gender equality here and across the country," Dung said.

At the round table discussion during the workshop, Vu Dao My, deputy chairwoman of Dien Bien provincial Women’s Union, said she even knows one village where gender-based violence is widespread and over 90 percent of the cases are targeted at women. My also emphasized the fact that many men did not understand what violence entailed. “As long as awareness has not changed, neither can behaviours,” said Ms. My.

Many women hide these incidences and tolerate them on their own without seeking help, according to Mrs. Luong Thi Tuoi, deputy chairwoman of Pa Khoang communal Women’s Union.

However, gender-based violence is not just the matter of only ethnic minority people but of various communities with people from different geographical areas and occupations, as stories shared by Nguyen Van Anh, director of the local NGO CSAGA, showed.

"Our work to prevent gender-based violence faces a lot of challenges. Without the engagement of men, it will be very difficult to prevent gender-based violence," said Van Anh.
 
Participants at the workshop included representatives of relevant provincial departments and agencies, project communes
Participants at the workshop included representatives of relevant provincial departments and agencies, project communes
Despite the fact that gender-based violence also persists in ethnic minority communities, mass media and relevant authorities have mainly paid attention to this issue in low-land areas where the ethnic majority Kinh people live.

A CARE’s survey in July 2018 with 329 women and 101 men in 4 communes of Muong Phang, Hua Thanh, Thanh Nua and Pa Khoang districts (Dien Bien province) shows that over three quarters (77.5%) of the women had experienced at least one form of violence in the previous 12 months. The proportions of surveyed women being scolded, intimidated and controlled in mobility were 66.6%, 35% and 32%, respectively.

Physical violence occurred much less with slapping being the most common with over half of the women (53.4%) experiencing this form of violence, according to the same survey. More dangerous physical violence acts include punching, kicking and strangling (18.3%) or hurting using objects (7.0%). No case of forced sex was reported in those 12 months, but up to nearly one quarter, or 23.8%, of the surveyed women had experienced sexual abuse in other periods of time.

It is also worth noting that women often chose to run away or tolerate: in the event of physical violence, 40.2% and 46.4% of the women chose to do so respectively while in the event of other forms of violence, these ratios were 22.8% and 66.6% respectively. Almost one hundred per cent, or 97.4%, of the women suffered forced sex without being able to run away or reject.

The survey also explored the gender stereotypes that influence how men and women behave, which partly explains the above findings. Nearly half (46.5%) of the interviewed men said scolding was not a form of violence while over 40% of the interviewed women agreed with the notion that to preserve the family happiness, they should keep quiet when being beaten. Over half of the women said that was forgivable for men to beat their wives.

The SUSO project will be co-implemented by CARE International in Vietnam, the Institute for Development and Community Health (LIGHT) and Dien Bien Center for Community Development (CCD). At the end of the project, it is expected to raise awareness among local people and local authorities about gender-based violence; help survivors raise their voice about their situation and increase access to support services; and include the issue of gender-based violence among ethnic minority people in advocacy for a life free of violence.

To achieve the above objectives, the project will carry out activities to facilitate participants’ reflection on the underlying causes of gender inequality, engage men at the village level activities, strengthen the capacity of relevant agencies in providing services to the survivors, and increase the voice of the people in policies related to the prevention of gender-based violence.

The project is part of CARE International in Vietnam’s remote ethnic minority women program. In addition to efforts to reduce gender-based violence, CARE International in Vietnam also implements projects to help ethnic minority women enhance their role in the banana and coffee value chains, improve their livelihoods and increase their adaptability to climate change.
Tuan Minh
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