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Exhibits highlight plight of abused women

Update: March, 14/2013 - 10:25

Designed to shock: A number of objects used by abusive husbands to torture their wives are on display at the exhibition. — VNS Photo Doan Tung

HA NOI (VNS)– An exhibition that examines domestic violence opened on Tuesday in Ha Noi, with art on show reflecting the struggles of abused women from all over the country.

Focusing on violence against women and girls, the Smiling Tears exhibition tells the real stories of abused women and their plight to find hope in life instead of living in sorrow and pain.

Violence against women is widespread in Viet Nam, with one in every three Vietnamese women being subjected to physical violence during her life.

The exhibition was planned on the occasion of International Women's Day, and has received support from the Norwegian Embassy together with the UN, the Spanish Embassy and three Vietnamese NGOs.

Some of the exhibition's most distressing components are the sad stories told by victims of abuse along with a display of objects their husbands used to torture them. Another space features photos and stories about how victims stood up to their abusers and found a way out.

While the first part of the exhibition represents a dark side to the lives of domestic violence victims, visitors may find inspiration in the stories of hope and change.

Explaining the title of the exhibition, Cao Thi Hong Van, director of the Centre for Women and Development, said: "From our experience, we know how hard the process of recovery is for survivors. This exhibition shows this process in a positive way and most importantly it aims to provide inspiration and empowerment."

One among many objects which abusive husbands used to torture their wives on display at the exhibition. —VNS Photo Doan Tung

Photos and information about the activities of NGOs in Viet Nam to battle domestic violence are also on display.

Resident UN Co-ordinator for Viet Nam Pratibha Mehta said public awareness and education was extremely important for preventing violence against women and girls, in addition to addressing root causes such as gender inequality and discrimination.

The exhibition's opening was attended by Pham Thi Huong, 27, who was a victim of domestic violence and shared her story with visitors. Huong said she felt hopeless while living with her abusive husband.

"When I decided to divorce him, I didn't know if it was the right thing to do or not but I knew that I couldn't stand his shower of blows anymore," Huong said.

"I received a lot of support and courage from the NGOs to find hope again in my life. Now I feel more confident and optimistic."

An artwork by an abused woman is auctioned during the exhibition to raise fund for women in need. It is one among the works created in a social event called Circle Painting held in Ha Noi and the central province of Nghe An since 2011.—VNS photo Doan Tung

She now lives as a single mum, has a job and has also become active in helping other women who are struggling to get out of abusive relationships.

"By revealing the secrets of our life, we take a step towards our freedom," said Nguyen Van Anh, chairwoman of the Domestic Violence Prevention Network. "We will then gain courage to face pain, mistakes, unhappiness and many other unpleasant experiences that have happened in our lives and live with the burning aspiration that might have been hidden deep in our soul for a long time.

An auction of artworks by abused women was also organised during the exhibition. The works are the result of a social event called Circle Painting held in Ha Noi and the central province of Nghe An since 2011.

The exhibition will run until March 29 at the Centre for Women's Development, 20 Thuy Khue Street, Ha Noi. – VNS


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