Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers whether a fine is feasible to stop domestic violence and to share with us any experience or stories about a feasible solution. Here are some of the comments:
Steven F, American, Viet Nam
While domestic violence occurs with both genders (male against female, female against male), it is always caused by a lack of knowledge to resolve conflicts. There are other effects such as violent TV productions and movies, alcoholism, poverty and adultery, when one person is caught having an affair with another one.
Typically, it is very hard to solve all these problems with one strike of a sword. I hope Viet Nam will not fall into the trap that the USA has fallen. Namely, spouses use the legal system for retaliation and revenge, often sending innocent people to jail.
Education is the key, the government has to start this in as early as in elementary schools, educating children to respect and have dignity for women and/or for their life partners. For the parents, do not let their children watch violent American junk and video-games, which teach them to respond to and resolve issues with violence.
Nguyen Quoc Uy, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
In Viet Nam, women and children are protected by the law from domestic violence. Nevertheless, domestic violence still happens often in Viet Nam, especially in countryside areas. According to Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) on-line newspaper, 13,204 cases of domestic violence took place nationwide in the first six months of this year.
According to the Law on Preventing and Fighting against Domestic Violence which took effect in 2008, administrative penalty, i.e. monetary penalty, is one of the measures which lawmakers had thought could be effective in preventing domestic violence. This measure, however, can not prevent domestic violence. Most of the cases when the measure is applied to penalise a husband who beat his wife, the husband takes money from his wife to pay for the penalty. So, in fact, the victim, and not the violator, is penalised. Moreover, the amount of money is not big enough to prevent a violator from perpetrating domestic violence again.
In my opinion, community plays a very important role in preventing domestic violence. A community as a whole has to stand with domestic violence victims. Everyone from a community must strongly criticise any act of domestic violence, boycott anyone who perpetrated the violence.
Domestic violence has not occurred in my home village which is located about 60km far from Ha Noi since a man who had once beaten his wife was boycotted by all villagers, including his relatives. The man felt ashamed when he was nicknamed as "Mr. Wife Beater" by villagers. Moreover, the man was not allowed to participate in all communal activities until he made a commitment not to perpetrate violence against his wife and the commitment was fully and really respected by himself.
One more feasible solution is that women and children themselves must be educated on how not to be a victim of domestic violence. Mutual love and mutual understanding are considered as an effective way to avoid domestic violence. Most of the cases, a husband who has been well treated in all ways by his wife and children never beat them.
An association of domestic violence victims may be helpful for its members also, I think.
Domenico Giuffre, Italian, Australia
I don't believe a fine for domestic violence is any solution, for the same reasons you have explained in the article. General education is certainly the way to reduce violence, but you also need to be ready when it happens.
In Italy, for example, they have been training doctors in the emergency rooms to ask the right questions and listen to victims. The patients, in this way, "realise that they are standing in front of someone willing to go all the way and do not settle for excuses," because, "physicians should remember that they are public servants, and have a duty to report violence to the magistrates. " Task forces of this kind are few, but they exist and they work.
Most of the victims do not report being abused because they are afraid of the consequences. To ensure the protection they need, there is also a "warning" that the police might issue to those with violent behavior: if the abuses continue they can be arrested.
I don't know the laws in Viet Nam, but I am sure that any decision made to combat this issue is always a step forward.
Vincent Nguyen, Vietnamese-Australian, HCM City
These days, it is possible to say that domestic violence has decreased a lot but somehow it is still happening in some families; especially in families where husbands or wives lack education. Or many cases happen because husbands/wives are jobless, that also increases violence in families. Moreover, due to people's characteristics which are hard to change and we can see some domestic violence still happens even among those who have high education such as those with a Masters, PhD, so on and has high position in society. Also, maybe there are big gaps between a wife and husband about knowledge, thinking, or lifestyle, which leads to the problem.
To reduce this problem I think the Government should have proper solutions. There should be regulations/laws for this matter in the country and this law should be applied strictly for everyone in the country. Such as the Government can send them to do public services, and then we have to have a special class about the family (for both men and women) in order to let them know about the value of family, their wives, children. Because bad behaviour or ugly images caused by domestic violence will affect their children in the future. The country will be stronger and more developed if every household in the country develops themselves and loves each other.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
The last thing you want to do with a violent man is force him to pay a fine. I can just imagine the domestic scene the next day. ‘Woman! Look what you did to me! [Slap, punch, kick]. Now get out and work and pay off this fine.'
Everybody is under stress. Viet Nam is a noisy, busy and competitive place. There's no time to be lazy and no place to find some peace and quiet. I propose a different response.
Start with opening a toll free counselling phone centre. Women and children need to be able to go to a temporary shelter. The violent person (male) needs to be interviewed to discuss calmly and privately what is bothering him and why he uses force.
Punishment with fines or being forced to plant trees/sewage dredging is counterproductive and would only be a public embarrassment. There's no education in that. Better the man takes an anger management class one weekend for 8-10 hours. Similar programmes exist for repeat drunk drivers, drug abusers and parents who hit their kids.
Likely the person grew up in an environment of strict discipline. Not enough hugs! Send the man to tai chi class at the local community centre. Get him to talk with some grandparents. Everyone needs a friendly shoulder to cry on once in a while.
Men don't ask for help as it is seen a sign of weakness.
Arny Stieber, US
Domestic (and all) violence in every country is best controlled by education. People must learn non-violent conflict resolution skills. Public service ads on TV would be helpful. With the media being filled with violence there must be a counter voice.
John Gibson, Australian, Ha Noi
Domestic violence is often heard of but seldom seen by those having a normal life of marriage, raising a family or just getting on with life. They don't get a warning that a friend or a neighbour is suffering abuse – they, in general read about the statistics involving domestic violence, the increasing number of victims seeking shelter and of course the impact on the public purse.
For example, a recent report from a senior judge in the Australian State of Queensland stated there were more children now in care than prisoners in the States jails and penitentiary institutions.
As previously stated, offenders should be punished and not until the violence has become a criminal offence such as murder. But, as also stated by the Judge, "There is no legislation enacted to punish bad parents!" Nor systems such as restraining orders or actions by relative authorities necessary to bring a stop to continuing acts of domestic violence.
While there is a strong out-cry that prevention is a community task it will nevertheless be difficult to succeed. Of the reported cases, it has been recognised that the number of unreported cases far outweigh those reported. Pride, shame and lack of family support are reasons.
In fact, there is a strong belief that school teachers may be the first to recognise the problem of domestic violence in the home and should report the issue to the authorities for investigation.
But whilst there are minimum levels of punishment, outside of the criminal code, this gutless and cruel scourge may continue. — VNS