The rate of violence against women in Vietnam showed little change between 2010 and 2019 with 62.9% of women in the country experiencing at least one form of violence, including physical, economic, emotional, and controlling behavior and sexual violence.
|Age distribution of respondents by husband/partner status, Vietnam 2019. Source: UNFPA
In the nine years since the initial study, the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) decreased slightly in the interval between “the National Study on Violence against Women in Vietnam” in 2010 and “Results of the National Study on Violence against Women in Vietnam 2019” conducted under the technical and financial support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The studies using the adapted WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women with extension to ages of 15 to 64, showed that violence was explored beyond the family sphere to include workplace and other public spaces.
Yet despite its high prevalence, violence against women continues to be very much hidden and silenced in Vietnamese society. Nine years from the first study, most women did not speak out or seek help, largely due to a culture of victim-blaming and impunity for perpetrators.
It was also estimated that violence against women is costing Vietnam 1.81% of GDP in 2018.
Yet, there was good news too. Younger women are experiencing less physical violence by intimate partners than older women, and are less likely to agree that wives should obey husbands.
But to eliminate violence against women and girls effectively and holistically, a structured and multi-sectoral approach involving all relevant agencies and organizations is critically needed. This is the only way to bring about change in social norms and promote gender equality.
|Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Trinh Thi Thuy at the workshop on Mar 24.
Helpful international support
The studies point out the root cause of violence is gender inequality. Therefore, they contribute to evidence-based advocacy to facilitate the country’s policymaking and decision-making at both national and subnational levels.
To address the issue, the Government of Vietnam is determined to tackle domestic violence by prioritizing the amendment of relevant laws and policies on domestic violence prevention and control, raising public awareness of GBV.
In this regard, the ongoing project “Eliminating violence against women and children in 2021-2025” marks the continuous support of UNFPA and funding by the Government of Australia.
In the latest move, a workshop held on March 24 by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism (MCST) in collaboration with UNFPA and funded by the Government of Australia discussed the implementation of the new National Program on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, approved by the Prime Minister in January 2022.
The solutions put forth at the workshop include the revision and finalization of laws and policies on domestic violence prevention and control, strengthening leadership and coordination between ministries, sectors, and localities in achieving targets of the National Program, and improved support systems for domestic violence survivors.
Speaking at the event, MCST Deputy Minister Trinh Thi Thuy said “Our responsibility in the coming time is to increase resources; improve the efficiency of inter-sectoral coordination; promote communication and education; and perfect the legal framework for effective implementation of the national programs.”
|Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Australian Embassy in Vietnam Mark Tattersall at the event.
Addressing the event, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Australian Embassy in Vietnam Mark Tattersall said “No society is immune from domestic and family violence, and no country can afford to be passive. Not Australia, not Vietnam. Australia is committed to staying the course with the Government of Vietnam, and to support the realization of the National Program’s goal.”
Meanwhile, UNFPA Representative for Vietnam Naomi Kitahara welcomed the Domestic Violence Prevention and Control Law which has been scheduled for endorsement in October 2022.
In her speech, she said: “I am very proud of Vietnam reaching this level of engagement in trying to eliminate domestic violence in the country.” She pledged that in the next five years, UNFPA continues supporting the implementation of this National Program to ensure that all women and children in Vietnam, including those most vulnerable, live a life free of violence.
In this workshop, the approval of the Vietnam Family Strategy by 2030 and the Program on Family Ethics and Lifestyle Education by 2030 was also informed.
According to international experts, if violence against women and girls is not addressed now, it will be a serious impediment for Vietnam to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
|UNFPA Representative for Vietnam Naomi Kitahara speaks at the workshop.
|Participants of the workshop.