Sam - Hang Tran

Fewer beatings thanks to group sessions

In domestic violence, news, projects on May 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Domestic violence is prevalent in Vietnam, with poverty, alcoholism and gender role stereotypes considered to be the main causes. Now an SDC-sponsored project has produced encouraging results by or-ganising group sessions for both abusers and victims.

According to local newspaper reports, a woman dies from domestic violence every three days in Vietnam. While reliable statistics and up-to-date studies are not available, both Vietnamese and foreign experts agree that the phenomenon is disturbingly widespread. And this is despite the fact that gender quality and non-discrimination have long been anchored in the constitution of this communist country. Among the various causes of domestic violence: poverty, alcoholism, low level of education and traditional views of men as the undisputed heads of the household.

For years, Vietnamese government agencies, domestic and foreign NGOs as well as foreign development agencies have struggled to improve the situation. Now encouraging results have come out of a project launched in the North Vietnamese province of Ninh Binh in 2003. Since its inception, the project has received some CHF 700,000 in SDC funding. Twenty municipalities in this traditional rice growing region are part of the project whose activities include producing all manner of information materials, maintaining a counselling centre and organising focus groups for men and women, abusers and victims.

Nowadays, the blows come less often than in the past

Wife beaters and sobbing victims: Scenes of domestic violence depicted in sketches made by children from the Province of Ninh Binh.

Focus groups have become very popular in the local communities. Group sessions give people the chance to share experiences and make them, abusers included, more aware of the problem. “I have come to realise just how badly my family has suffered from the violent behaviour,“ says one focus group participant. “Once domestic violence ceases, men and women are able to devote their time and energy entirely to taking care of their families.”

Even the women affected by domestic violence have a positive view of the group sessions. “My husband used to beat me on average once or twice a week,” reports a member of a Victims group. “Ever since my husband started coming to Abusers group sessions, he beats me only once or twice a year.” By taking part in group discussions, women have gained direct and personal benefits. It was at the group sessions that they learnt for the first time that men and women are equal under the law. “Previously, I had no idea what our rights were,” explains one of the group participants. “Our husbands made all of the decisions for us. Now, these decisions are discussed within the family beforehand.” Another woman had this to say about the effects of the group ses-sions: “We now understand that we don’t have to live in a violent envi-ronment.”

Although there are no statistical surveys to prove the project’s effec-tiveness, local public officials report that domestic violence has clearly gone down since the project was launched. Many previous abusers and victims have become active group participants, states Vu Thi Tan, President of the Women’s Union of the Province of Ninh Binh. These focus groups have made both men and women much more aware of issues relating to gender equality and domestic violence.

A project to be emulated
Nevertheless, a lot of work still remains to be done. Domestic violence will not disappear overnight and awareness campaigns are always needed. Vu Thi Tan describes the situation thus: “Many men still con-sider it perfectly normal to beat their wives – and many women remain silent because they believe that it is their role in society to put up with the abuse.”

Fourteen more municipalities have been added to the project in Phase 2, which was launched in the summer of 2007 and will continue until the summer of 2011. Special efforts will be made to increase the involvement of local healthcare centres and schools. This should help the local population become more aware of the problem of domestic violence at an early stage of their psychological development. “The approach is entirely new and there is nothing like it anywhere else in the country,” says Nguyen Thanh Giang, programme manager at the SDC’s cooperation office in Hanoi. The same can also be said for the work being done with the Abuser groups, an approach that has also had positive feedback lately in Europe.

Department responsible
Regional Cooperation


Country / Region
Vietnam / Province of Ninh Binh


Partners
People’s Committee, Women’s Union – Ninh Binh Province
Implementing organisation: Institute for Reproductive and Family Health (RaFH)


Introduction/ background information
Despite the ruling communist party’s official stance in fa-vour of gender equality in society, domestic violence in Vietnam is a widespread phenomenon that affects the physical and mental wellbe-ing of many women and causes major disruption in families.


Project objective
The project seeks to promote gender equality by reducing domestic violence in the Province of Ninh Binh.


Target group
20 municipalities (Phase 1) and 34 municipalities (Phase 2) out of a total of 147 municipalities in the Province of Ninh Binh.


Financial framework
Thus far, the SDC has spent around CHF 700,000 for the project.


Duration
Phase 1: June 2003 to May 2007
Phase 2: July 2007 to June 2011


Contact
Institute for Reproductive and Family Health (RaFH)
63/65 Cat Linh Street
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel.: +84 4 823 42 88
E-mail: rafh@hn.vnn.vn

Swiss Cooperation Office for the Mekong Region
Hanoi Central Office Build-ing, 16th Floor
44B Ly Thuong Kiet Street
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel.: +84 4 934 66 27
E-mail: Hanoi@sdc.net

http://www.sdc.admin.ch/en/Home/Projects/Domestic_violence_in_Vietnam

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