Viet Nam: campaigning against domestic violence through words and art
19 September 2011 - The Government of Viet Nam has joined forces with UNODC to increase awareness of the dangers of domestic violence and to encourage communities and families to speak out against such violence. In a countrywide campaign entitled "Say No to Domestic Violence", launched in August 2010, members of the public participated in a writing and painting competition on the theme of gender-based violence and violence against children. Articles were submitted to a local newspaper, Family and Society Newspaper, and winning entries, decided upon by an editorial panel, were published and their authors awarded prizes.
Recently, fifteen prizewinners were selected from among the authors of a total of 1,536 articles sent to the newspaper in the past year and honoured at a prize-giving ceremony. In addition, UNODC and Family and Society Newspaper selected 20 winning paintings submitted by primary school students in Hanoi. The paintings were exhibited at the National Arts and Culture Exhibition Centre during the Family Festival held in Hanoi in June 2011.
General Nguyen Van Ba, deputy head of the Vietnamese Police General Department for Crime Prevention and Control, said: "The competition is helping to change people's attitude towards domestic violence, in particular moving away from the perception that it is a private family matter."
Le Canh Nhac, chief editor of Family and Society Newspaper , said: "The competition has encouraged journalists to source and write informative and powerful stories to fight against domestic violence in Viet Nam. We hope that reading these stories will give members of the public the courage to speak up against domestic violence and to seek help for its victims too."
Talking about domestic violence in Viet Nam is still a taboo, even though one third of married women experience that form of abuse, according to a national study carried out by the World Health Organization and the General Statistics Office of Viet Nam in 2010. Many victims do not speak up out of shame and in order to preserve the image of a happy family.
Breaking that silence is an important step towards preventing domestic violence and protecting victims. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences for those involved, as illustrated in the story of Mai, the mother of a woman murdered by her husband: "I witnessed my daughter's miserable situation for many years, his beatings, the violence, the harassment and his affairs. Each time she visited, she cried. I always advised her to be patient, to avoid embarrassing and shaming our family. I believed that her husband would change if his wife and children were good-natured people and hard-working. I could not imagine such an ending."
"Say No to Domestic Violence" is part of a larger UNODC project in Viet Nam aimed at strengthening the capacity of the law enforcement and justice sectors to prevent and respond to domestic violence. Established in 2008 by UNODC and implemented jointly with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice, the project seeks to assist law enforcement and justice officials in dealing with domestic violence and to facilitate implementation of the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control of 2007. The project offers training for legal officials in order to enable them to assist victims of domestic violence more effectively and contributes to better ways of collecting and analysing data on the services provided to victims.
In a bid to strengthen the response of the United Nations to domestic violence, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the "UNiTE to End Violence against Women" campaign in 2008. Aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world, UNiTE calls on Governments, civil society, women's organizations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire United Nations system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.