Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Is beating your spouse the best way to solve a problem? Will witnessing long-term domestic violence have a negative impact on children? Should women keep silent about violence at home?
These are just some of the questions about domestic violence raised at the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ exhibition, which is on-going at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.
Through installation art, the exhibition tells the stories of the victims of domestic violence. It also reports on campaigns organised by the Việt Nam Women’s Union (VWU).
Visitors can also get involved in the ’Break the Silence’ campaign to express their opinions on domestic violence.
This is a very meaningful activity that advocates community-based approaches to speak out against domestic violence. The campaign is organised within the framework of the Action Month for Gender Equality and Gender-based Violence Prevention in Việt Nam.
Young people can attend pre-marriage classes held on December 2 and 9, where they can learn about marriage, domestic violence and ways to solve problems in relationships.
“Do you know that one in three Vietnamese women suffer domestic violence. Domestic violence can happen to anybody in any place and under different circumstances,” said Nguyễn Hải Vân, director of the museum.
Museum staff worked with co-ordinators of the Women’s Union on many cases of domestic violence. Of 60 women they approached, 20 victims, with their identities hidden, agreed to share their stories at the exhibition.
“A panorama of domestic violence in Việt Nam will be displayed at the exhibition. We present the problems in some specific themes such as unhappy marriage – a reason for domestic violence, mask of happiness – silent pain, and a safe house for victims of domestic violence – a project by the VWU.”
Silent pain: Masks of happiness, each installation art work presents a theme of domestic violence. — VNS Photo Minh Thu
Though the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control was issued more than 10 years ago, the problem persists. Victims of domestic violence, mostly women, do not dare speak out but suffer in silence.
“We expect that the exhibition will reveal the reality of domestic violence in the country today, how to change that sad situation, and call on victims and the community to break the silence and join hands to repel violence,” said Vân.
A woman who shared her story at the exhibition said that she does not want neighbours, colleagues and her husband’s friends to know she is often beaten by her husband because “it is an unhappy story and I fear it will affect his work and our children," she said.
A 34-year-old grocer from Thạch Thất District said after 14 years living together, her body is full of injuries after her husband gets drunk and hits her.
“I have filed for divorce many times, but when he wakes up, he apologises and swears he won’t hurt me again,” she said.
“But everything happens again and again. I hope that my love and tolerance can change him, so I try to maintain the marriage.”
Domestic violence happens because the community still accepts that is part of family life or it is bad behavior on the part of men, according to Lê Thị Phương Thuý from the Centre for Women and Development, under the VWU.
“We provide shelter for victims of domestic violence. Through thousands of cases we know, we find that domestic violence has terrible consequences for children who live in the violent environment.”
“Girls will be more likely to accept violence when they grow up, and boys will understand they have the right to beat girls. They will consider violence as a way to communicate.”
“Therefore, it’s essential to ensure the safety of children in the home environment,” she added.
The exhibition will run until December 31 at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, 36 Lý Thường Kiệt Street, Hà Nội. — VNS