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Men must take action to stop violence against women
Jenna Duong 17:54, 2021/07/20
It is not enough that only women stand up to end violence against women but men must also join in this fight.

Cam, which means brocade, satin, silk, or brightness in Vietnamese, is a nice name for a girl as the parents wish their daughter a pleasant and happy life. But Cam in the story of Pham Thanh Xuan from Hanoi is not like that. Her life story, however, has been completely contrary to her name with full of pain and suffering since she got married.

Need a hand

The life of the girl named Cam is not as smooth and beautiful as her name. Photo: Pham Thanh Xuan

The global economy has stagnated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many companies have gone bankrupt and Cam, unfortunately, lost her job. 

The financial situation of her family was tough and Cam's unemployment was a burden to her husband. This made Cam's husband stressed and short-tempered. He beat her regularly. Being painful both physically and mentally, however, Cam had never dared to protest her husband because he is the breadwinner of the family while Cam and their two small kids depend on him.

Once, he got jealous to find Cam talking with a male colleague. He beat her right in the lobby of the apartment building. Seeing that, her colleague tried to stop him and help her stand up. It made Cam realized that her life needed to change and she had to defeat her own fear.

“Cam”, the name of a series of media photos about gender violence by Xuan, is one of 10 winning works in the contest “Men take action - Stop violence against women” organized by the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender - Family - Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other organizations.

Xuan shared with The Hanoi Times that his photo project aims to send a message that not only Cam but any woman who is a victim of gender-based violence need a helping hand from the community. Men, who are known as the “strong gender”, must prove that you are a real man by using their strength to protect your family, the community, and especially women who are weaker, instead of using violence against them.  

The important role of media

Cam is usually violated by her husband.

According to the national study on violence against women in Vietnam in 2019 by UNFPA, nearly two out of every three Vietnamese women (62.9%) experienced at least one form of violence (physical, sexual, emotional, and economic violence and controlling behaviors) and 13.3% of women experienced sexual violence by husbands during their lifetime.

Although violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender or age, women and girls are the main victims, the most affected by violence, and the majority of perpetrators are men. “It is thus essential that men should be the core of the solution to ending violence against women and girls. It is in this context that the “Men take action – Stop violence against women” contest was held. The contest was not only looking for creative solutions to end violence, but also aiming at promoting the participation of young people, especially young men and boys,” said Nguyen Van Anh, founder, and chairwoman of CSAGA.

Speaking at the award ceremony held in Hanoi recently, Naomi Kitahara – Representative of UNFPA Vietnam said over 100 candidates who joined this contest are the winners. “I was so impressed with such strong communication and advocacy skills of young people in the campaign to achieve “Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices to women and girls”, she said, adding that UNFPA looks forward to keeping this momentum created, and we are not leaving women and children behind due to gender-based violence, in Vietnam’s development process.

The mother of two had never dared to protest because her life and two small kids depend on him.

Kitahara also pointed to the important role of the media in raising the public awareness to change Vietnam’s socio-cultural practice of silence when it comes to gender-based violence. “We need to break the silence, so that survivors of gender-based violence can speak up and seek help and services when needed. The media needs to explain that violence against women has serious consequences on the social and economic growth of the country. No matter where violence happens, in what forms, or who it affects, it must be stopped,” she stated.

However, it is not enough just up to the women to fight against gender-based violence, according to Anh, men play an important role in promoting gender equality and ending violence against women. As an organization that has worked in this field for many years, CSAGA has always wanted to work with men and boys to raise awareness and provide skills for relationship-building, problem-solving, and peace-building.

“The organization of these contests through social media will contribute to the creation of social movements about men working to end violence against women,” she told The Hanoi Times.

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