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"Say no to domestic violence": UNODC initiates nationwide writing competition

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 15 September 2010
- To support the joint effort of the United Nations country team in Viet Nam in raising public awareness of gender-based violence in the country by using mass media, UNODC has initiated a writing competition on the theme "Say no to domestic violence". The competition was organized by the Family and Society newspaper and launched on 9 August 2010.

Domestic violence, especially violence against women, is a widespread phenomenon in Viet Nam. It is very difficult for victims of domestic violence to access appropriate services and receive sufficient assistance to ensure their safety and protection. Therefore, when attempting to tackle the issue of domestic violence, it is essential to break the silence surrounding the matter. Society has to move away from the notion that domestic violence is a private matter that should be kept within the family.

Zhuldyz Akisheva, Head of the UNODC Country Office in Viet Nam, said that "through this writing competition we hope to once again raise awareness and emphasize the need for change, both in the authorities' approach to domestic violence and in the manner in which domestic violence is perceived in the home".

As with many societal issues, the media plays an important role in reporting on domestic violence cases in Viet Nam. However, journalists bear the responsibility of reporting on such issues in a professional, informed and sensitive manner. Poor-quality reporting can be counter-productive, as it could reinforce stereotypes and, more importantly, lead to the re-victimization of survivors whose identities have been revealed.

The Family and Society newspaper and UNODC hope that this initiative will encourage journalists to write informative and powerful stories about domestic violence in Viet Nam, contributing to a change in attitude towards such violence, in particular moving away from the perception that it is a private family matter.

Guidelines were put in place to safeguard the integrity and identity of domestic violence victims. Eligible stories must ensure the confidentiality of victims and perpetrators, as well as the safety of survivors and their children. Journalists were given information on the appropriate approach to take when reporting on domestic violence cases and were provided with background information on concepts and causes of domestic violence, especially on violence against women.

The submitted stories will be judged on content and the overall handling of the issue of domestic violence. However, special attention will be given to stories covering violence against women.

Entries will be judged by a panel of 10 members, seven of whom are well-known media professionals and three of whom are experts in the field of domestic violence. The winners of the competition will be announced on the occasion of International Women's Day, in March 2011.