A woman reads leaflets giving instruction about the Ánh Dương House Shelter. — VNS Photo Thu Trang
QUẢNG NINH — Nguyễn Thị Ngà (not her real name) got married when she was 21 years old.
When Ngà was in the second month of her pregnancy and very tired with morning sickness, she was violently bitten by her husband during an argument.
She decided to get a legal separation.
When Ngà’s child was a little more than one year old, her husband apologised and promised that he would change.
Ngà agreed to come back as she wanted her child to have a full family.
But, he didn't and he started physically abusing Ngà again.
“I thought that he could change, but I was wrong. I spent more than 20 years of my youth with him, but I received pain and injuries,” said Ngà.
Ngà ran away one night with her child and went to the Ánh Dương (Sunshine) House Shelter after contacting its hotline at 18001769.
Despite efforts to change the situation, gender-based violence is still a daily problem in Việt Nam.
A national study on violence against women in 2019 showed that nearly two in three married women, or almost 63 per cent, have experienced one or more forms of physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence and controlling behaviours by their husbands in their lifetime.
Violence against women remains very much hidden. Half of the women who experienced violence by husbands had never told anyone. Almost all women, or 90.4 per cent, who experienced physical and/or sexual violence from husbands did not seek any help from formal service providers.
Violence against women has serious consequences on economic development, as well as physical and mental health and costs Việt Nam’s economy the equivalent of 1.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Data from Quảng Ninh Province shows that between 2016-18, there were 555 cases of gender-based violence reported, and women victims made up 81 per cent in the locality.
Emotional violence accounted for 65.2 per cent, physical violence 29 per cent, sexual violence 2.3 per cent, and economic violence 9.5 per cent.
In times of crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak, women and girls may be at higher risk of violence due to confined environment at home for a prolonged period of time, restrictions of movement, and heightened stress and tensions in the household. In Việt Nam, gender-based violence service providers have also observed increases of calls over the past months, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).
Ngà was among a number of women and children receiving support from the Ánh Dương House Shelter.
Ánh Dương House Shelter is a part of the project 'Building models preventing violence against women and girls in Việt Nam' co-ordinated by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), MOLISA and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Male workers of the Hòn Gai – TKV Coal Selecting Company in the northern province of Quảng Ninh join a multiple choice game in which spreading knowledge on sexual violence against women and girls prevention. — VNS Photo Thu Trang
The project aims to contribute to the implementation of the National Strategy on Gender Equality for 2011-20.
The house was founded in April this year in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.
Nguyễn Phúc Phong, director of the house shelter and also the Quảng Ninh Provincial Social Work Centre, said: “Our staff operate around the clock. They have necessary skills to deal with sensitive gender-based violence-related information, and any survivors of gender-based violence when in need of support shall be welcomed, and they are provided with timely and personal care and follow-up actions to find solutions against the violence.”
“Essential services provided at the Sunshine House will follow a victim-centred approach which victims’ needs are met with respect, sympathy, impartiality and confidentiality,” he said.
The house aims to detect, prevent and provide timely assistance to women and girls who are victims of violence, including victims of sexual abuse, through essential support services. It also aims at raising awareness and changing the behaviour of the community.
At the house, victims receive psychological, medical and legal support. The victims will also be introduced to vocational training centres or social skill training classes if needed.
Since its foundation, it has given support to more than 1,200 victims who called its hotline 18001769. More than 40 of them are under-16-year-old victims.
A man shares his opinion on preventing sexual violence against women and girls in an education meeting on the issue in the northern province of Quảng Ninh. — VNS Photo Thu Trang
Lê Khánh Lương, deputy director of the Gender Equality Department under the MOLISA, said Ánh Dương House Shelter is one of 18 support essential services providers to gender-based violence victims, which are currently under pilot implementation by the Gender Equality Department.
“It is necessary to open the shelters for victims of gender-based violence like the house – a safe space for women victims, which can provide timely, integrated and quality essential services and care. Survivors can receive health and physical care, mental and psychological support, other support to ensure safety, and legal aids. We hope that the launching of Ánh Dương House Shelter will effectively contribute to our efforts in the prevention and effective response to violence against women and girls in Việt Nam,” he said.
Cho Han-Deog, Country Director of KOICA Việt Nam Office, said that violence against women and girls has tremendous costs not only to the victims but also to families, communities, and societies in terms of livelihood, health, safety, school achievement, productivity and rule of law.
“We believe that every woman and girl has the right to live in a gender-based violence-free environment. The project’s activities including the establishment of one co-ordination mechanism to facilitate inter-institutional support essential services will bring about efficient, professional, gender-sensitive and tailored assistance to the victims,” he said.
Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Việt Nam, said: “UNFPA is committed to continuing our support to the Government of Việt Nam and other partners to end gender-based violence and achieve gender equality in the country.”
“I call on everyone to join forces to make sure that women and girls can live a life free of violence, have equal access to opportunities and resources, exercise their leadership, and participate fully in the country’s process to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we can work towards a world where both men and women, and boys and girls, can enjoy life with dignity,” she added. — VNS