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UN in the News: "Social mores could reinforce domestic violence: experts

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Thanh Nien News, 11 March 2010

Domestic violence is rife in Vietnamese society, and experts say traditional inequalities could be exacerbating the problem. Speaking at the Policy Dialogue on Gender Equality organised in Ha Noi on March 9th by the United Nations and the Vietnamese government to discuss remaining challenges on gender equality and women’s empowerment, Bruce Campbell, representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam, said: “cultural and traditional norms of many countries in Southeast Asia…don’t change quickly.” “Women are still not valued equally as boys - for example, the sex ratio at birth shows a strong indication for son preference [in the country].” The country’s national average sex ratio at birth is 110.6 males per 100 females, compared with a biologically standard figure of 105, according to UNFPA. “So as long as those kinds of traditions of inequality are in place, this challenge [of addressing gender-based violence] will take time to overcome,” Campbell told Thanh Nien Weekly over the phone.

One out of three Vietnamese women say they have suffered physical or sexual violence from their husbands at some time in their lives, a joint United Nations-Vietnamese government study said last November. If emotional; violence is included, the number rises to 58 percent, the study found. One out of four women who were physically or sexually abused by their husbands reported suffering physical injuries. Of those, more than half said they were injured multiple times. The study, the first of its kind in Viet Nam, interviewed 4,838 women between ages of 18 and 60. It was conduced from December 2009 to February 2010. “When we talk about violence against women, the first effort must focus on prevention. In order to do good prevention work, we start with men - perpetrators of violence,” said Bruce Campbell.

“We must start in schools with young boys… If we get boys and later on men involved in hearing this message, then we’ll prevent the issue.” “We’re looking to do training with law enforcement agencies because we find many cases continue to go unreported. If they are reported, families are simply urged to resolve their own problems internally, So we need to do more in terms of capacity building to support public security officers and we’ve found so far that they are willing to support this kind of training. So we need to fund the money again to support scaling up training for public security officers nationwide."

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