Vietnam: A conference to combat gender-based violence

Exchanging ideas to move forward was the objective of the first debate co-organised last month by PE&D and a university student club in Vietnam. Specialists, activists and students shared the problems related to gender-based violence in Vietnamese society before answering questions from the audience on the subject.

This event, co-organised in April in Ho Chi Minh City with the student club “Changemakers Club”, gathered 27 participants. It mainly targeted LGBTQIA+ students and youth with three main objectives:

  1. To advocate for non-discrimination in the educational environment,
  2. To increase the visibility and recognition of male victims,
  3. De-normalise sexual harassment which is too often romanticised in fiction in Vietnam

After an introduction where Cassandra Fallon, our Hy Vong project leader, presented the role of the student clubs and the activities of the project, Dr Skultip, a psychologist renowned in Vietnam for her work with victims of violence, recalled the types of violence and launched the debate. The stereotypes conveyed in popular films and dramas animated the discussions. These dramas tend to trivialise unhealthy relationships in which women are subjected to violence. Dr Skultip deciphered behaviour that is often misinterpreted as romantic. For example, “wanting to keep you to yourself”. These behaviours are actually warnings: they can reveal that the partner intends to isolate the other person from his or her social circle, making him or her more vulnerable.

Participants also spoke at length about the difficulty of identifying victims and the need for support from institutions, family and friends to enable them to speak out. To date, this support has been provided mainly by associations.

Several participants were able to talk about their experiences. Like this young man who told the story of his mother, who was abused by his father and had no support. It was only when he came of age that he was able to react to defend his mother. A situation that he regrets and that eats away at him on a daily basis.

At the end of the conference, the students present presented their initiatives to prevent violence that also affects men and the LGBTQIA+ community. Professionals and students agreed that a change is taking place but that there is still a long way to go.

27 may 2021